New statement re MH370

Posted in General, Inmarsat, Operators at 11:36 am by timfarrar

The independent group analyzing the loss of MH370 has now issued a new statement, responding to the release of the June 26 ATSB report.


  1. Nancy Blondin said,

    July 16, 2014 at 8:18 am

    I also commented on your “on the wrong track” segment, this is a follow up. Referencing Line item a) of the new statement, could this unexplained time between last radar and 19:41 be explained by a soft ditch scenario? If you change the assumptions for speed and altitude during the subsequent pings and “assume” the plane ditched in tact and floated with the current @ a speed of 2/3 knots per hour during the handshake pings, could the movement of the plane at such a speed explain the discrepancy between the independent group belief that the plane was moving and the suggestion by sk999 and Alex S. that the plane was stationary during the pings? Ie, it was moving, but so slowly that it could appear to be stationary because of the movement of the satellite itself? Also, if in fact the plane did ditch at this point before the hourly pings, if the satcom reflector was wet or partially submerged (also assuming it was working on back up battery power) would factoring in a refractory index of 1.33 for the speed of light being slower in water alter the 40 arc enough to place the projected final ping location along with the corrected speed in a vicinity supporting this ditch scenario? Regardless of the likelihood of this scenario, is it at all conceivable?

  2. Nancy Blondin said,

    July 17, 2014 at 10:34 am

    Couple my previous question with the following witnesses and the likelihood that this is possible increases exponentially:

    http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/f108/i-think-i-saw-mh370-127132.html see the map showing where Katherine Tee was when she saw the plane descending with smoke and fire.

    http://www.thestar.com.my/News/Nation/2014/03/21/Woman-reports-sighting-jet-Raja-Dalelah-Im-convinced-I-saw-aircraft-near-Andaman-islands/ 12 hours later woman sees plane floating in same area.

    Now add the satellite photos by Aerial Photographer Don Elliott that are being ignored and discredited:

    With the historical flight by Sully Sullenberger showing photos of how a successful ditch looks: (similar to Raja Dalelah’s description.)


    Now tell me honestly that you think this location should not at least be searched with a side sonar. Really?

  3. sk999 said,

    July 18, 2014 at 6:21 pm


    This “new statement” strikes me as being lacking in a certain way. I would suggest that a sentence or two be added along the following line:

    “The Independent MH370 Investigation Team is enormously appreciative of the release of the ‘Signaling Unit Logs’ (or ‘data communication logs’) and the ATSB report on ‘MH370 Definition of Underwater Search Areas.’ These two documents are clearly the product of an enormous amount of work and thought, and they have added greatly to our understanding of the data.”

    It should also be recognized that the IMIT (or IG or however this group styles itself) is on record as recommending that the search be conducted in a specific area:

    “… our best estimates of a location of the aircraft at 00:11UT (the last ping ring) cluster in the Indian Ocean near 36.02S, 88.57E … We recommend that the search for MH370 be focused in this area.”

    Is the IG now wavering on that recommendation?

  4. Alex Siew said,

    July 23, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    To: Duncan Steel

    U said on your blog on July 23rd at 16.48 the following:

    ” Unfortunately people still keep harking back to things reported early on in the mass media; such things as the report that the US Navy had a ship in the area and personnel heard voice communications from MH370. I still get submitted comments and emails about this and other discarded rumours. While they are not posted here, they still exist in the maelstrom of the internet chatter and so being able to shift them definitively into the trash can (ie to tabulate evidence that they were always the figments of people’s imaginations or overblown rumours) will eventually be part of the telling the whole (sad) MH370 story. This would be not just for completeness (the sort of thing mathematicians love) but also so that lessons can be learnt. ”

    Duncan, if u sincerely believe these reports are ‘discarded rumours’ or ‘figments of people’s imaginations’ which deserve to be trashed, why not come over to this blog or some other blog where u are not the moderator, and repeat your statement above, so there can be an honest debate, something which is sadly lacking on your blog.

    Perhaps u can also consider posting on this blog, your theory about what happened to MH370, to enlighten those who are less omniscient. By the way, did u manage to chase down that ‘plume of smoke’ in some valley somewhere that u thought could have been MH370?

  5. Nancy Blondin said,

    July 25, 2014 at 6:34 am

    Perhaps if we pontificate the details that are not deemed trash worthy long enough, maybe everyone will get tired of this story and forget that we are pretending to look for a plane. Sadly, the details that are being trashed, like Alex’s very thorough and detailed data and the so called “quackery” that I have been “chasing” in my comment above are exactly why this is still a mystery. I believe that one of two things happened. Where Alex has suggested that the plane experienced a catastrophic event and went down could be the exact events that transpired. However, if that catastrophic event somehow managed to disable the plane rather than down it, given the sequence of events leading west that can possibly be linked to this plane, I believe that multiple search locations should be pursued. Including the area where the catastrophic event transpired and the now even more compelling location thanks to more detailed descriptions by Katherine Tee supported by multiple eyewitnesses and satellite images. With the South Indian Ocean as the only search area being validated by the “experts,” aka, the people deemed credible in the eyes of the mainstream media or the searching authorities, this plane only has a slim to no chance of being located within the next 25 years. Likely about after the information being withheld becomes declassified.

  6. Nancy Blondin said,

    July 26, 2014 at 12:48 pm

    It was not based on any assumptions about the speed of MH370 at any time during the flight. It is only based on a solid, verified time delay measurements of pulses (data packets) from the aircraft to the satellite at 00:19 UTC. Nothing else. Time delay X speed of light = distance. It is that simple. That time delay defines very precisely the elevation angle, range, and arc radii. There is no ambiguity and a small error bar, ~ ± 10 NM, no matter what speed the aircraft was flying.


    Verbatim from Mike Exner in an mail to me. The question about speed of light was valid. I’ve asked politely many times since I obviously do not understand the technology. Since Duncan did not provide me a respond link, I’ll post it here. A simple thanks for being so concerned and trying so thoughtfully to help solve this would have been a sufficient reply.

  7. JS said,

    July 28, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    Alex, I don’t know if you’re still out here, but I’m still churning through data and I have some observations.

    In our previous discussions, we talked about the correlation between the BTOs and the Z coordinate of the satellite.

    What I’ve noticed, though, is that the BTOs after the reboot correlate perfectly to a sine function.

    Here’s the important thing, though. The Z coordinate of the satellite is roughly derived from a sine function. So the correlation between Z and BTO is possibly an artifact of the sine function that Z comes from. However, as far as I can tell, almost ANY path that can be defined by a simple function will correlate to a sine curve. That includes a straight line, great circle path, for the time that the path is visible to the satellite. A perfectly circular path, not quite centered under the satellite, will also produce a set of BTOs that follow a sine curve. And, of course, a plane attempting a straight path but skewed by wind or INS error will also produce a sine curve.

    If so many paths produce a sine curve, then the coincidence is not the curve itself but the peaks and valleys – any synchronization between the BTO curve and the satellite’s orbit. If both have 19:36 as the peak, and if both have 24 hours as the period, then we have a coincidence. But we don’t have enough data to say that, with only 6 or 7 points. If the plane’s closest approach was at 19:26, while the satellite’s northernmost point was at 19:36, we wouldn’t say that was a coincidence.

    Ultimately, I think this comes down to whether we can believe that the plane flew a path that can be derived from a simple formula – either a great circle, or a wind-driven tack to the east, or any other shape the autopilot can produce.

    I’m not done with the BTO yet – I don’t think it correlates with the known positions, and certainly not as well as it correlates to the sine curve. But as far as I can tell, it supports the straight line or mildly curved paths the IG has proposed. At the same time it also supports a theory in which no BTO value after the reboot is reliable.

  8. Alex Siew said,

    July 30, 2014 at 8:29 pm


    I do not have a mathematical or engineering background so i am not able to give u any meaningful feedback on your observation about a correlation with a sine function.

    I am still waiting for Richard Cole ( aka Richard C10) to say something about the ATSB Report of June 26, 2014. He did a paper prior to the report but has been all quiet since the release of the report (other than a short comment on Duncan’s blog that he would need a few days to go over the report or words to that effect). Nothing further on Duncan’s blog or on his own Twitter account which is very strange.

    I also note the work that has been done by a Byan C posted on PPRUNE and on Duncan’s blog showing a flightpath ending back at KL. From the comments on Duncan’s blog, a few others have also made similar findings, that the BTO/BFO values can be consistent with a flightpath back to KL. To the laypeople, this would only serve to reinforce the notion that there is something ‘circular’ about the mathematics.

    It would appear the latest ‘trick’ to formulate a flightpath to any ‘desired’ endpoint is to vary the altitude, that is to say if the BFO does not make sense at any point for a given flightpath, just adjust the altitude or assume a particular ‘rate of descent’ for that point and voila….. everything fits perfectly.

  9. Alex Siew said,

    July 30, 2014 at 8:59 pm

    @Bruce Lamon,

    In my previous comments about what the 2 ATCs had said regarding what they saw that night on their radar screens (from 1.21am to 1.30am), i had omitted a detail.

    As previously noted, Malaysia DCA said their ATC tracked the plane on secondary radar up to 1.21am and on primary radar up to 1.30am. Ho Chi Minh ATC on their part said they tracked the plane as a ‘radar blip’ ie on primary radar, up to BITOD.

    What i omitted to mention is that from the outset, Malaysia DCA and Malaysia Airlines had also said that the plane was last seen on radar about 120 nm from the coast of Kota Bahru.

    The airport at Kota Bahru is called Sultan Ismail Petra Airport. This airport is 1 to 2 nm from the coast and is listed as 126 nm from BITOD and 89 nm from IGARI.

    Which means according to the said statements made by the Malaysians (on March 8th and in the days that followed before the receipt of the Inmarsat satellite information/theory (reportedly on March 13 Malaysian time)), the plane was last seen on their ATC primary radar at around BITOD. Which corroborates the statements by Ho Chi Minh City ATC, recorded in the calls between the 2 ATCs on that night (see annexure to the Preliminary Report) that the plane was last seen at BITOD.

    If the plane was around BITOD at around 1.30am, it could not have been the blip at MEKAR at 2.22am as a 777 cannot cover such distance in such time even at its maximum speed.

    Which also means the figures showing a turn west off IGARI both in the Preliminary Report and in the ATSB Report of June 26, 2014 and the statement in the ATSB Report at page 2 that ” at 1725 the aircraft deviated from the flight-planned route’, are all false.

  10. Alex Siew said,

    July 31, 2014 at 2:35 am

    The characterization by Duncan of the reports about an SOS call from MH370 picked up by the 7th Fleet at 2.43am 7th Fleet time (1.43am MYT) as a ‘discarded rumour’ or a ‘figment of people’s imagination’, deserves a response.

    To take a step back, if on March 7, 2014 someone were to ask the question as to which party would be the most likely to detect an activity happening at the South China Sea, such as a plane crashing into the waters, most would pick the 7th Fleet. It is common knowledge, at least among the people in this region, that the 7th Fleet maintains regular patrols in such waters. It also cannot be disputed the US leads the world in surveillance technology.

    It was no different in the early hours of March 8th, 2014 (MYT). The USS Pinckney and the USS Kidd were both at the South China Sea at such time.

    Malaysia Airlines issued its first statement at 7.24am MYT that MH370 had gone missing.

    Less than an hour later at 8.13am MYT, the 7th Fleet issued the following statement:

    ” USS Pinckney (DDG 91), an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, is en route to the southern coast of Vietnam to aid in the search efforts of the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, March 8. Pinckney was conducting training and maritime security operations in international waters of the South China Sea. The ship could be in the vicinity of the missing jet within 24 hours…..”.

    Did the 7th Fleet command direct the crew on USS Pinckney to rush off to the rescue after learning of the plane’s plight from the statement by MAS at 7.24am or was USS Pinckney already on its way and the US 7th Fleet waited for Malaysia to make a public announcement of the missing plane before issuing the above statement?

    Furthermore, at such hour ( 8am MYT) there was hardly any public information about where the plane was last seen and in the following hours the Malaysians released information that the plane was last tracked 120 nm off the east coast at Kota Bahru which would put the plane in the middle of the seas between Malaysia and Vietnam (around BITOD).

    So that begs the other question as to why USS Pinckney was rushing to the “southern coast of Vietnam”, the “vicinity of the missing jet”. Did the personnel on the ship already know something that others did not?

    In a telephone interview with the New York Times as reported on March 11, 2014, the spokesman for the 7th Fleet Cmdr William Marks said the following:

    ” Q. How difficult is this search and rescue effort?

    A. You have a point where you had communication, but you have another point where you had a radar contact. So where do you put this dot in the Gulf of Thailand? And then being 48 hours away, that search box gets bigger and bigger as every hour passes. It is a very difficult, very challenging puzzle that we are trying to solve.

    It’s much, much more different and complex than other cases. For example, let’s say a plane goes down. If you had solid radar coverage and you track it all the way down and you see its altitude fall, fall, fall- you pretty much know exactly where it is.

    It’s very challenging. Look at the geography. At first we thought it was closer to Vietnam, just off the coast of Vietnam…..”

    Just why did the 7th Fleet think that the plane had crashed “just off the [southern] coast of Vietnam”, which would be the case if the plane had lost all power at IGARI at 1.21am and at its glide ratio of 18:1, glided for around 100 nm from there on the plane’s last known flightpath of 40 degree, passing BITOD at around 1.30am in the process.

  11. Alex Siew said,

    July 31, 2014 at 7:09 am

    In the phone interview with New york Times reported on March 11, 2014, Cmdr William Marks had also said the following:

    ” Q. How much longer could the search last?

    A. The way that we in the Navy look at this is that for the first 72 hours, we consider it still a search for survivors. Survivors have been known to make it at least that long, so from our perspective, we still hold out a little bit of optimism for survivors. That’s for that first 72 hour period. After that, it’s at the decision of the Malaysian government what they want us to do, and where they want us to be.”

    However, contrary to the last paragraph of the above statement, by the next day, the decision was made for USS Pinckney to head to Singapore for “planned maintenance and routine voyage repairs”. This was how Defense News reported it on March 13, 2014:

    ” In coordination with the government of Malaysia, we have decided to send USS Pinckney to Singapore for planned maintenance and routine voyage repairs, said the Navy’s 7th Fleet spokesman Cmdr. Williams Marks. “With the search area expanding into the Straits of Malacca, Pinckney is not currently needed until follow on information is available and planning occurs. She will continue searching during her transit south today.”

    On the same date, Washington Times reported as follows:

    ” The US Navy is easily the biggest and best equipped Navy in the Pacific and was fast to participate. Two San Diego based destroyers have been searching areas designated by the Malaysian government. The USS Kidd searched the southwest section of the Gulf of Thailand before heading to the Straits of Malacca on Thursday, according to 7th Fleet spokesman Cmdr William Marks. The USS Pinckney searched the northeast area between Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam before heading to Singapore for maintenance.”

    From the foregoing, the following is clear:

    1. The USS Pinckney was at the South China Sea when MH370 went missing over the South China Sea.

    2. Within minutes of Malaysia’s announcement that the plane was missing, or more probably even before the announcement, USS Pinckney was on its way to the southern coast of Vietnam. USS Pinckney in fact was the first ship from any country to respond to the plane’s disappearance.

    3. Right from the outset, the 7th Fleet thought the plane had crashed just off the southern coast of Vietnam.

    4. The USS Pinckney searched this ‘northeast’ area where they thought the plane had crashed.

    5. After the decision was made to deploy the US destroyers to the other coast ie the Straits of Malacca, USS Pinckney declined to participate further in the search but docked at Singapore. That was the end of USS Pinckney’s involvement in the search.

    Can the case be made that it was USS Pinckney which had picked up the SOS call from MH370 at 1.43am MYT and quite possibly tracked the plane on part of its glide downwards from IGARI, on the ship’s state of the art Aegis AN/SPY-1D(V) multifunction radar?

    This alleged pick up by the 7th Fleet of the SOS call from MH370 at 1.43am was reported by among others China Times, citing the US Embassy at Beijing as the source. China Times has never retracted the report. The US Embassy at Beijing has never denied the report. The 7th Fleet likewise has never issued a denial of this report. Which leads to the bigger question: surely this report has to be investigated, to be ruled out if not true?

    After all, we have the MH370 International Investigation Team. And we have this Independent MH370 Investigation Team. Presumably the word ‘investigation’ in both teams must mean something although for some reason, there does not appear to be much investigation going on, if any, with the focus on endless permutations of possible flightpaths based on an equally endless list of assumptions.

  12. Alex Siew said,

    August 1, 2014 at 12:11 am

    On June 19, 2014, Don Thompson aka GuardedDon posted on his Twitter account a picture showing the location and range of the various air defense radars in Malaysia and posed this question: WHICH RADAR DID TRACK MH370?

    1. UP TO 1.21AM AT IGARI

    The answer, for up to 1.21am at IGARI, definitely the radar at Bukit Puteri at the northeast next to the Gong Kedak air base (at the border of Kelantan and Terengganu) and possibly the radar at Bukit Ibam at Pahang and also the radar at Butterworths/Penang (the air base for the five nations defense arrangement).

    Note IGARI would be at or close to the maximum range for the radars at Bukit Ibam and Butterworths (see Don’s picture).

    2. From 1.21AM TO 1.30AM to BITOD

    The plane, now just as a radar blip with the SSR transponder no longer transmitting, would still be seen on the Bukit Puteri radar, reportedly a Martello S – 743D supplied by Alenia-Marconi with a listed range of 270nm. However it is likely to be out of range ( at least closer to BITOD which is another 37 nm from IGARI) for the other 2 radars. The radar at Bukit Ibam reportedly is another Martello S – 743D while the radar at Butterworths is said to be a Selex RAT – 31DL also with a maximum range of 270 nm.

    In addition, the blip was seen on the screen at the Ho Chi Minh City ATC ( see annexure to Preliminary Report) so a radar at Vietnam was also tracking the blip.

    3. From 1.30AM ONWARDS

    Ho Chi Minh City ATC said the radar blip disappeared at or after BITOD. Malaysian DCA said the radar blip disappeared at 1.30am and Malaysian DCA and Malaysia Airlines said the blip was last seen on radar 120nm from the northeast coast at Kota Bahru which works out to around BITOD. So MH370 as a radar blip disappeared from the screens at Subang ATC and HCMC ATC at around 1.30am at around BITOD.

    MH370 could only have disappeared from both radar screens at 1.30am because it went below a certain altitude. The Bukit Puteri radar range extends all the way to the coast of Vietnam ( see Don’s picture) and MH370 was flying closer to the radar at Vietnam at the time of disappearance.

    Incidentally BITOD is about equal distance from both Gong Kedak (130nm) and the closest Vietnamese airport Ca Mau Airport (131nm).

  13. Alex Siew said,

    August 1, 2014 at 1:15 am

    From Wikipedia on Air Traffic Control:

    ” A Radar Archive System (RAS) keeps an electronic record of all radar information preserving it for a few weeks. This information can be useful for search and rescue. When an aircraft has ‘disappeared’ from radar screens, a controller can review the last radar returns from the aircraft to determine its likely position.”

    A review of the radar recording at either end (Subang or Ho Chi Minh City) will show MH370 did not turn back or west at 1725 UTC but had remained on its flight path of IGARI to BITOD then. It will also show MH370 took 9 minutes to cover the 37nm between the 2 waypoints, which works out to a speed of around 240 to 250 knots, which just happens to be the speed a 777 would glide at, if it had lost all power. That would also explain why MH370 disappeared at BITOD as by then it would have dropped at least 13,000 ft from the 35000 ft it was at, at IGARI.

    So, to all the investigation teams out there: as a first step, please take a look at the radar recordings of MH370 for the night and in particular from 1.21am to 1.30am.

  14. Alex Siew said,

    August 1, 2014 at 8:12 pm

    Could MH370 have somehow regained engine power at some point after BITOD and then turned back and flew across Malaysia?

    Theoretically, yes. In 1982, British Airways Flight 9 lost all engine power after flying into volcanic ash south of Java, glided from 37000 ft to hit 13,500 ft before its engines restarted one by one (in clean air) and the plane was able to regain altitude and fly on.

    Is there any evidence MH370 managed to regain engine power and flew on? The answer is no. If MH370 had continued to fly on, at some point it would have been shown up on the radar screen of some air traffic control somewhere and it is an indisputable fact no air traffic control ever saw MH370 after 1.30am.

    This is what the Malay Mail, a Malaysian newspaper reported on March 11, 2014:

    “…The Boeing B777-200 aircraft was hovering somewhere 120 nautical miles off the coast of Kota Baru when it was last seen on radar……. Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) director-general Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, in hours after the aircraft went missing on Saturday, has said none of the control rooms in neighbouring countries found the jetliner on their radar. Azharuddin said that the controllers had crossed checked with counterparts in Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam before informing MAS of its missing flights. With no sign of the aircraft on radar, experts are now toying with the possibility of a mid-air explosion or a major malfunction onboard the aircraft, caused by electrical or technical failures…”

  15. Bruce Lamon said,

    August 1, 2014 at 10:50 pm

    Alex, what if any part of the flight path plotted in Figure 2 to the ATSB Report after 17:21 do you regard as credible? Just eyeballing it, it seems to show MH370 getting to BITOD as stated in the Preliminary Report annex, then turning west towards Kota Bharu. I believe Figure 2 is probably accurate up to the end of the light purple squigglement at (eyeball) 7 N, 103.25 E, mostly because it’s hard for me to fathom why anyone would make up such a plot and force it into the ATSB report in contradiction to the “last secondary radar” label and partly because it reportedly would be consistent with what Vietnamese secondary radar could have recorded.

    FWIW, I think it likely that the primary radar track across the Malaysian Peninsula is also accurate, primarily because it seems logical that the turn west was part of an attempt to land the plane at Kota Bharu, Langkawi and/or Penang, and secondarily because the account of the fishermen at Kota Bharu sounded credible. I’m suspecting it reflects Thai rather than Indonesian radar, however.

    All or at least part of the track from Penang to 18:22 I tend to agree with you is a case of mistaken identity.

  16. Bruce Lamon said,

    August 1, 2014 at 10:51 pm

    Thai rather than Malaysian radar, I meant.

  17. Alex Siew said,

    August 2, 2014 at 7:00 am

    @Bruce Lamon,

    No Malaysian radar or for that matter any other country’s radar, saw a plane making a turn back on March 8, at the time MH370 went missing.

    Figure 2 of the ATSB Report and the similar diagram in the Preliminary Report showing a turn after IGARI back across Malaysia and ending at MEKAR, are merely drawings reflecting the interpretation of some people, of what was seen on the Butterworth radar on the night of March 8th.

    The first thing to note is that the purported turnback was said to have been noted on the Butterworths radar, not the other Malaysian radars. This is the key to understanding this whole sorry saga.

    Please take a look at the diagram posted by Don on his twitter account showing the various Malaysian military radars and their respective range. U will note that the range of the Butterworths radar ends just around the IGARI/BITOD region. Whereas the range for the northeast radar at Bukit Puteri next to the Gong Kedak air base, extends all the way to the southern Vietnam coast. Which begs the question: if a turnback of an aircraft at around IGARI/BITOD was spotted on the Butterworths radar, surely the Gong Kedak radar would have spotted it as well since this radar was much closer to IGARI/BITOD? And how come the Air Traffic Control at Subang which would have screens showing a composite of all the radars, both military and civilian, also failed to spot the turnback?

    Just what did the Butterworths radar show (on a playback)?

    This is what New York Times on March 22nd reported on what was seen on the Butterworths radar:

    “…As air traffic controllers struggled to re-establish contact with Flight MH370, military radar at the Butterworths air force base on Malaysia’s west coast picked up an unidentified aircraft near where the plane disappeared. But the watch team, normally an officer and three enlisted personnel, either failed to notice the signal or decided not to designate and track it as a ‘zombie’ which would have pushed the information up the chain of command and possibly alerted air command.

    At a briefing on the base the next night, about 80 air force personnel were told there was ‘no proof’ the unidentified signal showed the missing plane making a sharp turn, flying back across Peninsular Malaysia and then turning again and heading northwest over the Straits of Malacca, a person familiar with the situation said.

    But investigators now believe that is exactly what happened….”.

    Thus all that was seen on the Butterworths radar was an ‘unidentified aircraft near where the plane disappeared”. The time when this signal was picked up was not mentioned. From this signal, the DEDUCTION is made that MH370 must have turned back at some point after it disappeared and then reappeared as this signal. No one at Butterworths actually saw an aircraft turning back, it was merely a DEDUCTION.

    This deduction cannot withstand scrutiny.

    Butterworths was and is a military radar, so there is no identification on the blips seen on its radar. So the fact that the aircraft was ‘unidentified’ on that radar means nothing.

    We come back now to the question why the Gong Kedak radar and the ATC at Subang never picked up any ‘turnback’.

    Unlike Butterworths, the Gong Kedak radar extends all the way to Vietnam, so this ‘unidentified aircraft’ ,coming the other way, would have been tracked much earlier. In all likelihood, the Gong Kedak radar had this aircraft on the screen as early as from the end of its range which was the coast of Vietnam, so to the people manning this radar, this was just another aircraft coming from Vietnam. In comparison, the radar at Butterworths would not have been able to pick up where this aircraft came from because ITS RANGE ENDS AT AROUND IGARI/BITOD.

    As for the ATC at Subang, since all the pickups on all Malaysian radars are piped down to the ATC ( ie including the Gong kedak radar), it too would have been tracking this aircraft from the very beginning (the coast of Vietnam) and in addition, this aircraft would have been transmitting its SSR signal and thus be an IDENTIFIED aircraft to the ATC.

    As noted in my previous comment, an ATC (as well as the individual radar stations) would have a record of the radar returns for all flights. I have said it before and i will say it again, if Malaysia has a recording of an aircraft turning back and crossing back over Malaysia that night, this recording would have been produced.

    As regards the reports about the military radar at Surat Thani having picked up an aircraft, these reports are not even coherent regarding the path of this supposed aircraft. Perhaps if u can make sense of these reports, u can draw up on a diagram the path the Thais claimed this aircraft took and i will study it and provide a reply. U will note from my previous comment that no ATC at Thailand picked up an aircraft that could have been MH370.

  18. Bruce Lamon said,

    August 2, 2014 at 11:30 am

    Thanks, Alex.

    Do you think the squigglement is a fabrication, and if so, why include it in the report given that it contradicts the narrative about disappearance from secondary radar at 17:21? Is it just a coloring error?

    I confess I don’t know about the Surat Thani radar reports beyond sketchy media accounts. What aspects of the reports do you find to be incoherent?

    I am sure you have covered this before more than once, but if you don’t mind repeating, why do you think the Malaysians abandoned the South China Sea search?

  19. Alex Siew said,

    August 2, 2014 at 6:55 pm


    The squiggle, to me, is fabrication. There is no way the Gong Kedak radar, and by extension Subang ATC (and also the Vietnamese radar tracking the plane), could have missed this squiggle if indeed there were radar returns actually showing a squiggle. What the people preparing this diagram/figure have done is to literally connect some dots (assuming there were some dots to begin with) in an attempt to show a turnback.

    The pertinent part of the statement by the Minister on May 1, 2014 accompanying the Preliminary Report states as follows:

    “…. As stated previously, Malaysian military radar did track an aircraft making a turn back, in a westerly direction, across peninsular Malaysia on the morning of 8 March…….. The radar data was reviewed in a playback at approximately 8:30 on 8 March. This information was sent to the Air Force Operations room at approximately 9:00. Following further discussion up the chain of command, the military informed the [Minister] at 10:30 of the possible turn back of the aircraft….”.

    Actually the cock-up had its genesis earlier during the morning. Item 21 of the List of Actions taken between 1:38 AND 6:14 8 March, annexed to the Preliminary report reads as follows:

    “21 05:20:17 Capt [name redacted] requested for information on MH370. He opined that based on known information, ‘MH370 never left Malaysian airspace’ “.

    This military officer could not have been from the Gong Kedak base as that radar had tracked Mh370 not just past IGARI but all the way to 120nm from the coast of Kota Bahru ie around BITOD. (IGARI is 80+ nm while BITOD is 120+ nm from this part of the east coast – see my previous comment).

    Judging from later reports, this military officer must have been from the Butterworths air base. Their radar range ends at around IGARI/BITOD and it would appear on that night MH370 had left that radar even before it reached IGARI, thus giving the impression to the officer, after seeing a later blip coming the other way (also emerging only in Malaysian airspace) that MH370 had turned back before reaching Vietnamese airspace.

    U will note the following:

    1. There is no mention anywhere as to when the later signal or blip was first observed on the Butterworths radar.

    2. The military had always insisted that it was only a ‘possibility’ that the later blip was MH370

    3. The Preliminary Report likewise only described this later signal as only ‘possibly’ MH370.

    4. The thinking initially was always that the signal possibly showed a turnback which is a technical term describing an aircraft turning back to the path it had come from ie reciprocal heading back to KL.

    5. Malaysia has never published any radar plot, screen or data.

    6. The only thing we got is the photo taken from a mobile phone of a composite radar image shown to the families during a presentation at Beijing.

    7. This composite radar image does not show anything to the east of Penang.

    8. This radar image has been analysed by many including Don and anyone with any intellectual integrity will admit it is bogus.

  20. Alex Siew said,

    August 2, 2014 at 7:09 pm


    The reports about the Surat Thani radar picking up an aircraft are incoherent in terms of how they described the path supposedly taken by this aircraft. I am not able to make any sense from the reports of where this aircraft was supposed to have been flying when it was allegedly picked by this radar.

    When people fail to make sense, it is pointless wasting energy trying the figure out what they possibly could have meant. These reports came 10 days after the plane went missing and would be contradicted by earlier reports that no ATC in Thailand had picked up anything that could have been MH370. I am sure the ATCs in Thailand, just like Subang ATC, would have all radar returns from all radars in Thailand, military and civilian (ie including the radar at Surat Thani), piped down to the ATCs.

  21. Alex Siew said,

    August 2, 2014 at 8:30 pm


    There is no simple answer to your last question as to why the Malaysians abandoned the search at South China Sea. The official explanation is aptly summarised by the March 22nd New York Times article, cited earlier:

    “…..The failure or refusal to recognise Flight Mh370 in the radar data meant the Malaysian authorities continued to concentrate search operations in the seas to the east instead of focusing on the west, where the plane was last seen northwest of Butterworth at 2.22am, according to an image of the radar track. The authorities also failed to move quickly on data that showed the plane continuing to fly nearly seven more hours – regular handshake signals from the plane to a satellite seeking to determine if the aircraft was still in range.

    Chris McLaughlin, a vice president at Inmarsat, the satellite communications firm, said technicians pulled all the logs of all transmissions from the plane within four hours of its disappearance. Then, after a day without sign of the plane, they began scouring the company’s databases for any trace of Flight MH370.

    ‘We decide to go and have another look at our network to see if there was any data that we had missed’, McLaughlin said. It turned out there was. Inmarsat technicians identified what appeared to be a series of fleeting ‘pings’ between Flight MH370, a satellite over the Indian Ocean and a ground station in Perth, Australia.

    The signals – seven of them transmitted at one hour intervals – were an important clue, because they could have come only from an antenna receiving power from the plane itself. But while they carried a unique code identifying the aircraft as Flight MH370, the signals contained no positioning or other data that could indicate where the plane was when it sent them.

    By Sunday afternoon, the engineers set to work using the principles of trigonometry to determine the distance between the satellite and the plane at the time of each ping, and then to calculate two rough flight paths. The plane, they concluded, had turned again. But it may have then traveled in more or less a straight line, heading north over countries likely to have picked it up on radar, or south toward the Indian Ocean and Antartica. The Malaysian government said it received Inmarsat’s findings on March 12 and spent three days analysing and vetting it with investigators from the United States before redirecting the search toward the south Indian Ocean on March 15……..”.

    That is the official story as to why the search was shifted to the Indian Ocean.

    Basically, Inmarsat had concluded that the plane had flown on for nearly another 7 hours with the plane first turning west (to cross the ring from the first ping at 1825) and then either turning south or north. This turn west was just what some military officers had thought was a possibility from the signal observed on the Butterworth radar. If I am not mistaken, Chris Ashton on the Horizons program said something about Inmarsat calling the Malaysians in the early days and asking if there was anything to show the plane had turned west and there would have been a ‘bingo’ moment. In short, it would appear the combination of the Inmarsat data with the Butterworth radar data persuaded the authorities that the plane had definitely flown on until after 8 am.

    U may recall when the 2 arcs were published on March 15th, the South China Sea portion of the arcs were cut off. Tim had given a few possible explanations for the cut off, the most plausible being that the authorities had likely concluded that the plane could not have flown on for 7 hours and still be around the South China Sea.

    I believe that up until that point in time (around March 15) Inmarsat really believed that the plane had flown on. But I also believe that at some point later, most likely when they started looking into the effects of the satellite motion (their earlier calculations were based on the assumption of the satellite being geostationary) Inmarsat came to realise that the data actually pointed to the plane having crashed early on. The elation that was felt previously would have turned into ‘that sinking feeling’ that a terrible mistake has been made.

    I will later today or tomorrow, sum up the evidence to show the plane had suffered a total electrical failure at IGARI caused by a positive lightning strike, with the plane crashing into the South China Sea soon after 1.43am.

  22. Bruce Lamon said,

    August 3, 2014 at 11:28 am

    Thanks, Alex. From your account of the blips Capt. Redacted saw, it sounds like you believe Butterworth tracked something not MH370 crossing the peninsula. I tend to think it was MH370 partly because no commercial aircraft that reasonably could be mistaken for MH370 crosses the peninsula on the flightradar24 replay.

    I look forward to your next post. Since I lack the chops to evaluate the correlation between the BTO/BFO information and the satellite movement, my biggest issues with your theory are (1) the unlikelihood of MH370′s SATCOM apparatus continuing to function seven hours after a catastrophic water landing and (2) the absence of any identified debris, notwithstanding the initial search, the wide interest in the fate of the passengers and the substantial sea traffic in the area in the meantime.

    My recollection is that Inmarsat’s discovery of its error in failing to account for the movement of the satellite led to the conclusion MH370 had gone south, but I have been wrong more than once before.

    I certainly agree though that if Inmarsat, the Malaysians or their radar (which I am seeing on Duncan’s may have come from Thales) had been derelict, they would be the last to admit it and the first to obfuscate.

    Thanks again for taking my questions!

  23. Alex Siew said,

    August 3, 2014 at 6:54 pm


    Thank you for your comment. I will post a more detailed reply later but in the meantime wish to clarify a couple of things.

    Don has done a paper on Malaysia military radar capabilities, which he posted on the website Metabunk (thread: ‘Radar sighting in the Straits of Malacca debunked’) last Friday. The diagram he posted on Twitter showing the various radars and their respective range is included in the paper but with some additional annotations, one of which is the location of IGARI relative to the range of the various radars. U will note that this latest diagram shows IGARI as just beyond the range of the Butterworth radar.

    Also Don gave the range of 220nm for the radar at Butterworth as well as the Gong Kedak radar.

    I apologize if i did not make myself clear and gave u the impression that it was my view that the Butterworth radar had tracked an aircraft crossing Peninsular Malaysia. My view is that the Butterworth radar never tracked an unidentified blip or aircraft that night crossing the peninsular as drawn up in Figure 2 of the ATSB Report. From the NYT report, all that was seen on the Butterworth radar was a signal which emerged subsequently on the radar near where MH370 had disappeared on that radar earlier.

    No time was ever mentioned for the appearance of this purported signal and the NYT report did not expressly state where the blip had gone on from there (although some may read the report as implying the signal did cross back over Malaysia) . My point was that since the Butterworth radar’s range ends just before IGARI, MH370 would have disappeared from that radar at the end of that range and any aircraft coming from outside the range to be within range would necessarily only emerge on this radar at the outer range of this radar as well.

    I do not know where this signal had come from or where it went after being allegedly spotted on the Butterworth radar but if indeed this signal was tracked along the path that has been drawn up in Figure 2 (ie the yellow line all the way to MEKAR) with time stamps consistent with the timeline of MH370′s disappearance and purported turnback, the recording of this radar track would have been produced and shown to the world long ago.

    The search at the South China Sea was officially abandoned on March 15th with the announcement that the plane had flown on for 7 more hours and publication of the 2 arcs one southern and one northern, ie the middle portion of the ‘ring’ from the last ping comprising the South China Sea section cut off. On March 25th, the authorities announced the Doppler analysis, to rule out the northern arc.

  24. Alex Siew said,

    August 3, 2014 at 8:25 pm


    Yes, for the pings to have been transmitted after a crash into the sea would mean (a) the portion of the rear fuselage (assuming the plane broke up upon impact) where the Satcom terminal and low gain antenna were located, must have remained afloat for the 7 hours, and (b) the Satcom terminal managed to retain a degree of functionality to respond to the satellite pinging for the handshakes.

    The probability for such a scenario is not high. I will in the next day or so, sum up the evidence to show that this scenario could indeed be what had transpired that night. In the meantime, perhaps u can let me have your thoughts regarding the NYT article i cited earlier, as to (a) what could be the reason when Inmarsat first pulled the logs of ALL transmissions from MH370, such transmissions did not include the pings which were discovered only a day later after the technicians went ‘scouring’ for ‘traces’ of MH370 on their ‘databases’ and (b) why the pings were ‘fleeting’

  25. Bruce Lamon said,

    August 3, 2014 at 10:24 pm

    Thanks, Alex, especially for the link to Don’s paper, which I will plan to read tomorrow.

    Perhaps if I understood more about how Inmarsat typically uses and searches the SATCOM data it collects, I could give a more sympathetic answer.

    I suspect not, however, because it has appeared to me that just about every Inmarsat statement on this tragedy has been designed first and foremost to buff its image while deflecting blame. Two of the more prominent examples being, (1) claiming credit for adding BTO data to the transmission after AF447 in order to find missing aircraft while in practically the same breath proclaiming themselves heroic for making sense out of arcane data never meant to locate an aircraft and (2) taking credit for the acoustic detections being right where their analysis predicted while subsequently letting it be known that the acoustic pings were an unfortunate diversion from the true “hotspot” they had advocated all along.

    And then in addition you have the NYT overlay, where it would not be the first time a reporter molded a story to make it more appealing or easier for a lay reader to understand. E.g., “fleeting” is over-the-top even for Inmarsat.

    So I am not going to parse Inmarsat’s language as quoted in the NYT article, but I will say that anyone at Inmarsat who knew the plane was missing, knew what locational data Inmarsat collected, knew how to find it and and knew how to decipher it, would have had that data in hand and understood its importance hours before fuel exhaustion. Maybe no such person works for Inmarsat, but the idea of Inmarsat persevering valiantly to precipitate the ping data is to me just a PR fantasy.

  26. Bruce Lamon said,

    August 3, 2014 at 10:34 pm

    Thanks, Alex, especially for the link to Don’s paper, which I will plan to read tomorrow.

    Perhaps if I understood more about how Inmarsat typically uses and searches the SATCOM data it collects, I could give a more sympathetic answer.

    I suspect not, however, because it has appeared to me that just about every Inmarsat statement on this tragedy has been designed first and foremost to buff its image while deflecting blame. Two of the more prominent examples being, (1) claiming credit for adding BTO data to the transmission after AF447 in order to find missing aircraft while in practically the same breath proclaiming themselves heroic for making sense out of arcane data never meant to locate an aircraft and (2) taking credit for the acoustic detections being right where their analysis predicted while subsequently letting it be known that the acoustic pings were an unfortunate diversion from the true “hotspot” they had advocated all along.

    And then in addition you have the NYT overlay, where it would not be the first time a reporter molded a story to make it more appealing or easier for a lay reader to understand. E.g., “fleeting” is over-the-top even for Inmarsat.

    So I am not going to parse Inmarsat’s language as quoted in the NYT article, but I will say that anyone at Inmarsat who knew the plane was missing, knew what locational data Inmarsat collected, knew how to find it and and knew how to decipher it, would have had that data in hand and understood its importance just about immediately. Maybe no such person works for Inmarsat, but the idea of Inmarsat persevering valiantly to precipitate the ping data is to me just a PR fantasy.

  27. GuardedDon said,

    August 4, 2014 at 3:36 am

    As I’m being quoted here I would like to the contributors to consider a few points.

    The ADS radar unit locations I have depicted in the paper are, to the best of the information to hand, accurate and I have been conservative on the detection range achievable. However, the ability of the radars to see inland of their locations is dependent on a ‘clear view’ of targets which would be impeded by high ground. I haven’t made any attempt to identify where high ground would impact the range of the radar systems.

    Note that the rationale for deploying these assets is to monitor airspace beyond Malaysia’s borders: they are all deployed near coasts facing over water.

    Just to reiterate, the point of drafting the paper was to set out openly available facts regarding RMAF’s ADS capability as a basis to ask why the answers that should be available from the capability have not been forthcoming.

  28. Bruce Lamon said,

    August 4, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    Don, what do you make of the Malaysian professions of uncertainty as to whether the trans-peninsula detection was MH370? If I interpret your excellent analysis (https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B1RouYpjchYTbjJwMnJTS0IxbVk/edit) correctly and the blog is accurate, Bukit Puteri would have fed MH370 into the RMAF Kuantan situation display the entire time it was over water, all the way to the southern tip of Vietnam. Combined with Alex’s comment about an appearing radar signal observed from Butterworth, I will now guess that the Malaysians refuse to release the radar data because it would show that (1) Bukit Puteri was not operating and/or 2) the situation display integration feature was not working.

  29. Alex Siew said,

    August 4, 2014 at 8:24 pm


    I have been asked many times the question as to why, if the plane crashed at the South China Sea, the search at the South China Sea did not turn up anything.

    I do not know whether u were following this case from the very beginning and watched one of the press conferences held by the Malaysians in the first week when a reporter asked the question as to who was in charge of the search and Datuk Azharuddin the head of the Malaysian DCA replied ‘I am “. The collective groan in the room was almost palpable.

    The Malaysians were anything but competent and transparent. I have in the past pointed out that the search organised by the Malaysians at the South China Sea was based on a false premise. The Malaysians tracked the plane on primary radar to 1.30am up to around 120nm off the north east coast at Kota Bahru. That means around BITOD which is around 120 plus nm from there while IGARI is merely 80 plus nm away. This is corroborated by the Vietnamese ATC which had said repeatedly that night that the plane as a radar blip was last seen at BITOD.

    But for whatever reason, the Malaysians centered the search at IGARI. This report on March 8th from the Star a leading Malaysian newspaper has been cited before:

    ” The last signal position of MH370 recorded on the Department of Civil Aviation’s radar was 1.30am Saturday. D G Datuk Azharuddin said this was MH370′s last position on the radar before the signal disappeared at 1.30am. ‘ The signal suddenly disappeared,’ Azharuddin told reporters….. He said the Malaysian search and rescue operations for the missing plane would [be] concentrated in a location off the Vietnam coast with coordinates latitude 0655 N and longitude 103343E…”

    Those coordinates would put the search location just off IGARI (0656 N 103356 E).

    Was this done because Malaysia wanted to make it appear the plane disappeared while still in Malaysian airspace and thus be able to retain control of the search under ICAO rules, or was it just plain stupidity?

    If that was not bad enough, in the first couple of days the search radius was limited to just 20 nm from IGARI. Malay Mail , another Malaysian newspaper reported on March 9th:

    “After almost 2 days since MH370 lost contact with the air traffic control, DCA DG Datuk Azharuddin revealed tonight that the…… search radius had been expanded. ‘ We have in fact intensified our search in the area. Initially it was a radius of 20 nautical miles from Igari, we have increased it to 50 nautical miles……”.

    On March 11th, the New Straits Times reported:

    ” As the search and rescue (SAR) operations enters its fourth day today, the search area for MH370 over the South China Sea has been tripled to cover a 100 nautical miles radius from waypoint Igari. DCA D G Datuk Azharuddin said the search area centred around Igari, the aviation waypoint closest to where MH370 was last detected. He said the search would be expanded even further the next few days if the [plane] was not found…..”

    The very next day, March 12th, Malaysia was informed of the Inmarsat data and the search at the South China Sea for all practical purposes ended. U will note from my previous comments, USS Pinckney which was searching the “northeast area” and USS Kidd which was searching the “northwest area” designated by the Malaysian government, were then pulled back from the search. USS Kidd was redeployed to the Straits of Malacca while USS Pinckney docked at Singapore for supposed maintenance but more likely an intelligence debriefing. Vietnam on their part officially said on March 12th they were pulling back pending clarification from Malaysia regarding the purported turn back or west.

    The plane was at 35000 ft at IGARI. If it had lost all power there and then, the plane on its reported glide ratio of 18:1 would still be able to glide for more than 100 nm from IGARI before hitting the seas. It was still seen on both ATCs primary radar at 1.30am at around BITOD (which means it would have been above 6000m or 20,000ft then).

    Given the foregoing, is it suprising that the search at the South China Sea failed to yield anything?

  30. Alex Siew said,

    August 5, 2014 at 12:00 am

    We have seen that when Inmarsat pulled the logs for ‘all’ the transmissions from MH370 on March 9th, the pings were not among the transmissions. According to Inmarsat, they only discovered the pings the next day, March 10th after going back to take another look at their databases, ‘scouring’ for ‘any trace’ of the flight.

    On March14th, Inmarsat released a statement about these pings, the pertinent part of which reads as follows: ” Routine, automated signals were registered on the Inmarsat network from Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 during its flight from Kuala Lumpur. This information has been provided to our partner SITA, which in turn has shared it with Malaysia Airlines…”

    It was only on March 25th when the Doppler analysis was announced, that the authorities disclosed that Inmarsat had subsequently discovered a ‘partial ping’. International Business Times reported on March 26th as follows:

    ” In one of the many puzzles surrounding the MH370 flight, one more was added. Investigators studying the final path taken by the jet disclosed that the plane sent an incomplete ping just eight minutes after the last of hourly pings was transmitted to the satellite….. Senior Vice President at Inmarsat Chris Mclaughlin told WSJ that the last partial ping ‘originates with the aircraft for reasons not understood’……”.

    What could possibly the reason why

    1. Inmarsat missed the pings, described as ‘fleeting’, the first time round on March 9th when they pulled the logs for ‘all’ the transmissions from MH370, and

    2. Inmarsat missed even then the ‘partial ping’, when on March 10th they scoured their databases for any trace of the flight and found the ‘routine automated’ pings.

    Perhaps those who are electrical engineers, including from the Independent Group, can give their views on this. To a layman like me, the answer has to be that these signals (pings) must have been of very weak signal strength, in other words, only faint traces of these signals were captured, with the ‘partial ping’ the faintest of them all.

  31. Bruce Lamon said,

    August 6, 2014 at 8:05 am

    Alex, “is it surprising that the search at the South China Sea failed to yield anything?”

    I’d say it’s a bit surprising if that is where MH370 went down. In AF447 they found debris within a few days, but maybe had a better fix on where to look. For MH370 I don’t know the details of what assets were deployed for how long and where they looked. I agree that glide is an issue and am frustrated by the seeming lack of input by Boeing or whomever might most accurately simulate the end of MH370.

    More surprising to me would be if MH370 went down in the South China Sea and still no debris had been identified notwithstanding heavy marine traffic and lengthy coastlines in the immediate vicinity.

    Of course, perhaps Warren Truss was right when on March 21 he speculated the debris had sunk. Or not.

  32. JS said,

    August 6, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    Alex your persistence is unbelievable. You cite quite a bit of information that often gets overlooked. This time is no exception.

    First, @Bruce – the correlation mentioned is the coincidental correlation between the later 6 or 7 pings, and the satellite’s movement. The correlation between these ping rings and the satellite’s movement is better than the correlation between the prior ping rings and the airplane’s known position. This at least supports a theory that the ping rings aren’t what we’ve been told they are – either by error or intention. At the same time, a hypoxia-induced autopilot-driven path to the Southern Indian Ocean is also supported by the same data.

    @Alex – I don’t think the signals were weak. The logs are digital. The signals were either logged, or they weren’t logged. If there is anything wrong with the values, I don’t think it’s because they were too weak, but rather that the engineers weren’t entirely sure about the logs. As we’ve discussed previously, this is bolstered by the delays in retrieving them, but also in the unusual bit storage scheme implied by the scale and precision of the BTO values. In other words, I think the logs needed decoding of some sort, and that processed opened doors for errors.

    I’m wondering – what if the satellite has the wrong plane? Remember that the 00:11 ping roughly includes Johannesburg. What if the latter 7 pings belong to a flight from the Middle East to Johannesburg, using 370′s identification either by theft or by software glitch? Or, could a northwestern flight have occurred? Pure speculation here.

  33. Alex Siew said,

    August 6, 2014 at 8:35 pm


    U will see from my previous comment on the search at the South China Sea, that the search just barely got started when it was called off ( officially on March 15th but effectively March 12th).

    Also for those few days when the search craft were out there, they were searching the wrong places, firstly 20 nm radius off IGARI, then 50 nm, then only in the last day or so (March 11th), 100 nm radius.

    Page 36 of the ATSB Report states as follows: ” Max. distance unpowered glide B777 from FL350 (120 NM)”.

    According to Brian Anderson, the wind at IGARI was around 16 knots 65 degrees. Mike Mckay said in his email the wind direction at his oil rig ” has been E-ENE 15-20 knots”. MH370 was on a 40 degree path going from IGARI to BITOD when the SSR signal was lost at 1.21.13am, so in effect there was a little bit of a head and side wind. Even after taking into consideration the wind effects, the plane could still have glided for around 100 nm.

    AF 447 crashed into the Indian Ocean at some speed and thus it was to be expected that there would be a lot of debris on the ocean surface. The evidence shows MH370 glided unpowered from IGARI onwards all the way down, hitting the seas soon after 1.43am. What happened at the time of impact would depend on, among other things, whether the plane was level on impact and the wave conditions at such time. The plane could have broken up into a few large pieces, with some or most of these pieces sinking soon thereafter. But there would be some debris on the surface, the question is how much.

    Then there is the issue of ocean currents in terms where the debris might have floated subsequent to the ditching. From the little i know of the direction of the ocean currents in that area at that time, those currents would push any debris AWAY from the coasts/shores.

    Did the person in charge of the search ie Datuk Azharuddin do any of the above calculations? Judging from how and where the search was being conducted in those few days, apparently not.

    By all means, search the Indian Ocean or even Antartica if one thinks the plane could also have ended up there. But why not also deploy some search craft to complete the search at the South China Sea at the same time. After all the plane disappeared there at 1.30am, no ATC saw the plane after 1.30am and the area where the plane had likely crashed was never or hardly searched. Malaysia borders the South China Sea and how costly can it be to deploy some ships and/or planes from Malaysia to search the relatively shallow and tranquil waters of the South China Sea a few hundred miles from their shores while the Australians, thanks to their Prime Minister, continue with their search at the much deeper and rugged Indian Ocean, thousands of miles away from the west coast of Australia.

  34. Alex Siew said,

    August 6, 2014 at 9:12 pm


    U may be right about the logs being digital and having to be decoded but don’t forget that the signal strength of the signals is one of the data recorded ,one of the 28 fields shown on the logs shown on CNN (Rx dBm), which has been excluded from the data log released on May 27th (which just shows the data for 8 or 9 fields). Please see the first page of the May 27th document for a description of all 28 fields.

    I have always maintained that the data on the signal strength (Rx dBm) together with the C/No (noise) and the BIT (bit error rate) would be key to determining whether the pings were transmitted over those 6 or so hours using secondary ie battery power through the low gain antenna which would show the plane had crashed early or whether the pings were transmitted on the plane’s regular AC or DC power through the high gain antenna which would indicate the plane was still flying during such time.

    Will we see this data being released any time soon? I doubt it, unless the Independent Group working with the families and the media, can press the case for the unreleased data much in the same way as some members of the Group did, back in April and May which ultimately led to the authorities releasing some data in the form of the May 27th document.

  35. Alex Siew said,

    August 7, 2014 at 1:51 am

    Just a few details on the integration between military radar and civil aviation radar in Malaysia.

    As explained in a previous comment addressed to sk999, all the radar returns from both military and civilian radars throughout Peninsular Malaysia get piped down to the Air Traffic Control at Subang (KL). On the northeast coast, the civilian radars would be a Terminal Primary Approach Radar (ie TRACON primary radar) of 60 nm in range co-mounted with a 200 nm secondary radar, near the airport at Kota Bahru. On the military side, there is the military radar at Bukit Puteri near the Gong Kedak airbase at the border of Kelantan and Terengganu states, a primary radar with an effective range of 220nm (maximum range is listed at 270nm). In short, 2 primary radars, one 60 nm and the other 220nm and a secondary radar 200 nm.

    On that fateful night, as we have seen, MH370 was being tracked on the Gong Kedak primary radar when the plane was between IGARI and BITOD. IGARI is 80 plus nm from Kota Bahru, so would be out of range of the TRACON 60 nm primary radar. Malaysia keeps its fleet of Sukhois at the Gong Kedak airbase so the question of switching off the military radar to save power or for whatever other reason, would never arise. Once again the report from WSJ on March 12th/13th:

    “Azharuddin Abdul Rahman, director general of the Department of Civil Aviation, told a news briefing that air traffic control lost contact with Flight MH370 on its secondary radar system at 1.21am Saturday before losing contact on the primary radar at 1.30am…. As is standard international practice, Malaysian controllers use two radar systems, a primary and secondary, to monitor their airspace”.

    According to Defense Review Asia, May 2010:

    ” As a whole, the RMAF currently possesses total radar coverage save for some gaps at certain height levels, details of which are classified. The Sistem Pertahanan Udara Nasional ( SPUN- National Air Defence System) is said to be between stage one and two of its three stage development goals, with stage one being full coverage of Malaysian airspace, stage two being the full integration and networking of all armed forces radar coverage along with the Malaysian Department of Civil Aviation while the third and final stage would be the addition of satellite coverage, AEW&C aircraft and surface to air missile systems into the air defense network.”

    That was in May 2010, more than 4 years ago. We can assume stage 2, the integration of military and civilian radar coverage, has been completed. The commercial director of Malaysia Airlines Hugh Dunleavy indicated as much in an interview with the Telegraph reported on June 24th:

    “However, the airline’s commercial boss criticised the Malaysian government for taking so long to reveal that the missing plane had turned back over the Malay peninsula towards the Strait of Malacca. ‘ I only heard about this through the news, Mr Dunleavy said. ‘ I am thinking, really? You couldn’t have told us that directly? Malaysia’s air traffic control and military radar are in the same freaking building. The military aircraft saw an aircraft turn and did nothing. They didn’t know it was MH370, their radar just identifies flying objects, yet a plane had gone down and the information about something in the sky turning around didn’t get released by the authorities until after a week. Why? I don’t know. I really wish i did.”

    Why? Because no one actually saw MH370 or any other aircraft turning around that night.

  36. Bruce Lamon said,

    August 7, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    Alex, my best guess is that the Gong Bedak/Pukit Buteri primary radar was not operating at the time. Otherwise, the primary radar signal would not have disappeared at 130 a.m. or thereabouts. Instead it would have tracked MH370 until its demise under your theory shortly after 1:43 a.m..

    The accounts you have mentioned, including the possible “reappearance” Captain Redacted may have seen from Butterworth seem to be consistent with MH370 having been tracked on primary radar only by the Western Hill system at Butterworth, and/or by Bukit Ibam system at Kuantan. (Per illustration 5 in Don’s paper, IGARI is near the edge of the nominal range of both systems, BITOD is beyond the nominal range of both systems and both systems have nominal coverage across the peninsula.)

    That would answer Dunleavy’s question: the Malaysian military didn’t say anything about MH370 turning because their radar didn’t see it turning.

    The light purple squigglement in Figure 2 of the ATSB report tells me though that somebody’s radar did see MH370 turning. (It is too detailed and too inconsistent with the narrative of the report for me to believe it was fabricated.) Annette on Duncan’s blog thinks it may have been Vietnamese radar, and that seems to me to be a good guess based on where the squigglement ends and on the accounts of MH370 appearing on Vietnamese radar in the preliminary report.

  37. Alex Siew said,

    August 7, 2014 at 6:24 pm


    The Gong Kedak radar had to be operating that night because we know that the Malaysians tracked the plane on their primary radar up to 1.30am until about 120 nm from the coast of Kota Bahru.

    As explained in my previous comment, the only Malaysian radar at range when MH370 traveled from IGARI ( 80+ nm from coast at Kota Bahru) to around BITOD ( 120+ nm from the coast of Kota Bahru) from 1.21am to 1.30am, would have been the Gong Kedak radar.

    The plane, now just a radar blip on both the Gong Kedak radar and the Vietnamese radar, disappeared at around BITOD. The Malaysians gave a time for when the blip disappeared from their radar, 1.30am. The Vietnamese did not give a time for when the blip disappeared from their radar but we know they called Subang ATC at 1.38am.

    The plane could only have disappeared from radar at that point in time (1.30am) at around BITOD due to 2 possible reasons (a) it disintegrated in mid air into pieces that were too small to be picked up by primary radar, or (b) it had dropped below a certain altitude by then at BITOD.

    I am of the view that it was the latter that happened. Perhaps the following press article on Professor Stupples’ comments on MH370, reported on March 15/16th will make it a bit clearer. U may recall Professor Stupples was the fellow that came on in the Horizons program talking about the radar coverage in Malaysia:

    ” ……Professor Stupples is an expert in radar systems, and worked for many years with the Royal Signals Radar Establishment in Britain.

    He said, ‘ The information from radar systems, and the Malaysians air defense radar system is one of the best in the world was completed and handed over last year, would automatically have been tracking all aircraft in that area, ‘ he said. ‘ For it to have suddenly disappeared and to have no secondary radar coming in would have meant that either this plane has met with a sudden and catastrophic event, or someone has switched off all the secondary systems, the transponder systems, and the communication systems, and then taken the aircraft down in height.’ He said.

    Stupples said that the maximum range of the radar would have been 402 kilometres. If the aircraft was taken down to 6000 meters it would then disappear from the radar because it would be over its horizon, he said…..”.

    Dave Whittington over on Duncan’s blog has given some numbers for the glide speed, time and drop per minute, from 35000 ft at IGARI. He said 1400 ft pm to 1700 ft pm, gliding speed of 220 to 240 knots, time in the air (maximum) around 25 minutes. The ATSB gave a maximum glide range of 120 nm. The wind was around 16 knots at 65 degrees.

    Anyone can do the sums and work out that if MH370 had lost all power at IGARI, it would have taken the plane around 9 minutes to glide from IGARI to BITOD. The plane was seen at IGARI at 1.21am. It was last seen at around BITOD at 1.30am. It all adds up.

    This is further corroborated by the plane’s disappearance at or after BITOD. If the plane had lost power at IGARI, it would have started dropping. The minimum drop rate (inversely maximum glide speed of around 240/250 knots) is around 1400 ft pm but we know there was a slight head and side wind of 16 knots at 65 degrees with the plane on a 40 degree path. If we take the average of Dave’s drop figures ie 1550 ft drop pm, in the 9 minutes from IGARI to BITOD, MH370 would have dropped from 35000 ft to around 21000 ft. Professor Stupples gave 6000 metres (20,000 ft) as the threshold height for the plane to be seen. So, once again the sums all add up.

    In the last few months I have been shouting myself hoarse trying to get people to see that just from the radar information from 1.21am to 1.30am, we can tell the plane must have all power at IGARI and glided unpowered to BITOD.

    Finally, at a drop rate of 1550 ft pm, the plane would taken about 22.5 minutes from 35000 ft at IGARI to hit sea level. That would work out to a crash time of between 1.23am and 1.24am. The alleged SOS call from MH370 with the pilots yelling that the cabin was disintegrating and that they were forced to ditch, was at 1.23am.

  38. Alex Siew said,

    August 7, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    Bruce, sorry. some typos in the previous comment. The last paragraph should read:…. That would work out to a crash time of between 143.am and 1.44am. The alleged SOS call from MH370 with the pilots yelling that the cabin was disintegrating and that they were forced to ditch, was at 1.43am.

  39. Alex Siew said,

    August 7, 2014 at 7:42 pm


    What could have made the plane lose all power at IGARI at 1.23am?

    I have in previous comments laid out the evidence to show that MH370 was hit by positive lightning at that moment in time. If u cannot find those comments, u can google “MH370 Lightning Strike Theory Part 1″ and ” MH370 Lightning Strike Theory Part 2″. LGHamiltonusa was kind enough to to extract those comments from the original thread on MH370 on this blog (TMF blog) and repost them on her Twitter account and on Duncan’s blog.

    The B777 has multiple redundancies in its electrical power system. It is a fly-by-wire plane. However, like all other commercial aircraft, it is only protected against lightning strikes of up to 200,000 Amperes, the industry standard. Positive lightning can exceed 300,000 Amperes and if u read Wikipedia, it is acknowledged that commercial aircraft are not built to withstand positive lightning.

    The aviation world was put on notice of the vulnerability of commercial aircraft against positive lightning in 1999 when a glider plane made of composite material disintegrated in mid air after getting hit by positive lightning. That particular strike was measured at over 300,000 Amperes, spooking the scientists measuring the power of the strike and the aviation world alike. The AAIB said the following in their investigation report:

    “…. CFRP [carbon fibre reinforced polymer] is an electrically conductive material but is more resistive than aluminium alloy. Modern jet transport aircraft types are also designed with increasing utilisation of such composite materials for structural and control surface elements. One example of this trend is the Boeing 777……

    RECOMMENDATION NO 99-49: It is recommended that the CAA should request serious considerations, during its participation in the current international review of aircraft lightning certification standards, of the fact that energy levels from positive polarity discharges have been shown to greatly exceed those specified in Advisory Circular AC20-53A, with the associated implications for the certificated lightning protection assurance of existing and future aircraft designs, particularly those which utilise significant amounts of composite material in their primary and control structures…”

    A pilot flying westbound to south Vietnam at the time that MH370 disappeared, reported seeing lightning in the area that MH370 was flying through.

    All signals from the plane requiring electrical power ceased at 1.21am.

    This power outage could not have been caused by human intervention as it is not possible for someone to disconnect all the circuit breakers involved simultaneously. Likewise a fire would result in the loss of systems one by one, not simultaneously, as exemplified by the Swissair flight 111.

    The NYT article cited previously reported that after MH370 failed to radio in to Vietnamese ATC ,planes that tried to contact MH370 on the emergency frequency (at the request of Vietnamese ATC) kept hearing static.

    The pilot of one of these planes, MH88 said he finally managed to get through to MH370 at just after 1.30am and heard a lot of static/interference and mumblings from who he thought was the co-pilot.

    Static and interference would be consistent with the radio equipment onboard MH370 having been electromagnetised by the lightning strike.

    The mumblings could have been due to distortion of the voice signals or it could be the co pilot was actually mumbling due to being dazed or even having earlier been momentarily knocked out by the lightning strike.

    Mike Mckay, the worker on the oil rig off the coast of Vietnam said he saw a burning object in the sky, that the flames lasted 10 to 15 seconds and that the object appeared to be in one piece.

    What Mckay saw could very well have been St Elmo’s fire on MH370, another lightning related phenomenon. Some have argued that Mckay could not have possibly seen MH370 from that distance. But Mckay was high up on an oil rig (as high as 100 metres according to some reports) and an object which is illuminated at night can be observed much further than it could otherwise have been in daylight.

    Mckay did not give a time for his sighting but said the ‘timing is right’.

    St Elmo’s fire can appear on a plane more than once on a single flight. British Airway Flight 9 which flew into volcanic ash, is an example. A plane which had been hit by lightning and thus become electrically charged, can induce further lightning strikes as what happened to the plane carrying the Arizona State football team in 2000:

    “…The team was returning Saturday night after its 23-20 overtime victory at Washington State. Over Camp verde, about 60 miles north of Phoenix, two bolts hit the America West charter jet. The first struck a wing tip and bathed the plane in a white light, knocking out the movie and the lights. Snyder, who had a window seat, saw a ‘huge brightness’ and felt the plane rock. The next hit, about 10 minutes later, was accompanied by a blue orange glow, and Snyder said the plane shifted direction….” .

    In the 1999 glider plane incident where the plane disintegrated in midair, the AAIB described in their investigation report the delamination effect on composite materials from a lightning strike. Basically because the electrical power from the lightning is not dispersed quick enough (as compared with the traditional material used, aluminuim ), the composite material ends up getting separated or shedded, in other words falling apart or disintegrating.

    Once again we are reminded of the alleged SOS call from MH370 heard at 1.43am, with the pilots yelling that the cabin was disintegrating and they had to ditch.

    The cabin floors of a Boeing 777 are made of composite materials.

  40. Alex Siew said,

    August 7, 2014 at 11:51 pm

    The report by the pilot who saw lightning as posted on PPRUNE on March 8th (post #120):

    “We entered HCM FIR last night westbound at FL340, passing MOXON (the boundary with WSJC) at about 1720Z, transitted HCM and Phnom Penh and exited, passing overhead PNH at about 1810Z.

    We experienced no problem with VHF Comms with HCM Centre and VVTS CPDLC/ADS also worked fine. We encountered no adverse wx – in fact it was a beautiful clear NE monsoon night, though there was some limited scattered lightning visible way off to the SW.

    121.5 was congested, with both HCM Centre and another MH flight trying to contact MH370. HCM Centre were also making repeated attempts to contact the aircraft on the normal Centre frequency.”

  41. Alex Siew said,

    August 7, 2014 at 11:57 pm

    From the Boeing website:

    ” The 777 makes extensive use of lightweight, cost effective structural materials that lessen the overall weight of the airplane and contribute to the fuel efficiency of the 777…….. Progress in the development and fabrication of weight saving advanced composite materials is evident in the 777. Carbon fibers embedded in recently available toughened resins are found in the vertical and horizontal tails. The floor beams of the passenger cabin also are made of these advanced composite materials……This is the same type of composite material used on the 787 Dreamliner….”

  42. Alex Siew said,

    August 8, 2014 at 1:19 am

    Some final thoughts.

    The question may be asked, why MH370 and not some other plane? Did MH370 just happen to be at the wrong place at the wrong time?

    According to literature on the net on lightning, for some strikes the aircraft just happened to be where the strike occurred but in other instances the lightning strike was actually induced by the aircraft.

    ” It is estimated that on average, each airplane in the U.S. commercial fleet is struck lightly by lightning more than once a year. In fact, aircraft often trigger lightning when flying through a heavily charged region of a cloud…”.

    We may never know if the lightning that struck MH370 was induced by MH370 or MH370 was just plain unlucky in getting hit by positive lightning aka ‘ a bolt from the blue’. But we do know MH370 was different from other planes in one aspect: its right wingtip was torn off before when the plane collided with another plane on the ground while taxiing at Shanghai Airport. The NYT article again:

    “…Malaysia Airlines has said the jet has been involved in only one previous safety incident. On August 9, 2012, the tip of one of its wings broke off after it clipped the tail of a China eastern Airlines Airbus A340 while taxiing at Shanghai Pudong International Airport. No one was hurt. Boeing said it sent a team of engineers and mechanics to remove and replace the damaged wing sections, and returned the plane to service after testing…”.

    Presumably the repair and testing took some time. MH370 went down on March 8th 2014, some one and a half year after the wingtip accident.

    Lightning protection for aircraft is premised on the Faraday Cage theory. Critical to this theory is that there should not be any gap for the conduction of the electrical charge from the lightning strike. Those who follow aviation news would be aware of the problems Boeing had with the certification for the 787 as regards its lightning protection and the tale of the fasteners.

    Did the repaired wing have anything to do with the lightning strike, firstly in terms of potentially having induced the strike and secondly in terms of impairing the conduction of the charge from the strike away from the plane? It might have, if the repairs were not done properly and there was a resultant gap somewhere.

    But we would never know the answers to all these questions if the plane is never found.

    There is definitely something strange about how this investigation has proceeded. The people behind the investigation are faceless. We do not know who these people are, even after 5 months of ‘investigation’. We do not know who is the NTSB representative. We do not know who is the AAIB representative. We do not know who has done what. All we are told is that the ‘experts’ have done the calculations and concluded from there the plane had gone to the south Indian Ocean, possibly even to Antartica.

    We are not even allowed to know what was the Satcom equipment on board MH370, not the manufacturer, not the make or model or how this equipment was powered. Just trust us, they say, they are going to look for the plane in the most rugged, deepest seas, the floor of which is less known to mankind than the surfaces of other planets according to Wall Street Journal. If one has to pick a place that is least likely to yield a result, this could very well be it.

    While the drama unfolds, the main protagonist, Boeing, keeps mum. After all, if the plane is located and the cause of the plane’s crash is found to be lightning, it would mean Boeing will have to recall its entire fleet to redo the lightning protection. For the 787 Dreamliner which is 50% composite, what was a dream, may end up a nightmare.

  43. JS said,

    August 8, 2014 at 8:36 am

    @Alex -

    Let me get your opinion on a slightly different theory.

    We talked about spoofing with some malicious intent, and a stationary plane, etc. But what if the BTOs and BFOs were real, but their identity is wrong? Duncan made an interesting point recently – to the effect of “nobody would expect satellite data to be used for tracking, so why spoof it.”

    That point, though, works in reverse: nobody would expect an identity swap to be detected.

    So what if the identity of the plane is being used by other flights, just to trim subscription costs? Would some other route create the results we’re seeing?

    Turns out, there might be such a route.

    Jeddah, Saudia Arabia, to Johannesburg, South Africa is served by a B777-200. Jeddah lies close to the 18:25 ping rings. Johannesburg lies close to the 00:11 ping ring. The route itself is a near mirror image of some of the modeled routes. Unlike the northern routes, the JDE-JNB route flies south, and would be affected by satellite motion the same way. So the route would theoretically fit the model, with a boot-up and takeoff at 18:25, a landing at 00:11, and a power down at 00:19.

    I don’t have matching flight schedules or ADS-B data to support this theory. However, I am intrigued by the very close match this route generates to the post-17:07 data from what we’re told is MH370.


  44. Alex Siew said,

    August 8, 2014 at 7:27 pm


    The spoof theory, as regards the post 1707 data, would have to overcome the following hurdles:

    1. Although theoretically possible, no actual case of spoofing or hacking of satellite data communications has been reported. So if this is the first case, the odds of a plane first disappearing and then later another plane spoofing its satellite data from the time of disappearance onwards, would be very low.

    2. The theft by one plane of another plane’s special ID code, should be detectable immediately by Inmarsat or SITA/ARINC as their records or logs would show two planes flying presumably different routes, having the same ID.

    3. In terms of costs savings, it is difficult to see how a particular individual or individuals would be motivated to do such a thing. Airlines are usually public listed companies and savings in costs would not accrue to any particular individual/s but to the company. Whatever we call it, spoof or hack, it is still theft and theft is a criminal offense under any criminal code in any country. And if it is proven the company actually was behind or sanctioned the whole thing, the company may stand to lose its license. Furthermore, such spoofing would probably have to involve more than one individual, for eg someone to do the software, someone to arrange access to the Satcom equipment of the ‘stealing’ plane, etc. Seems like the amount of work and risks involved would not commensurate with the rewards in the form of some costs savings, which are highly unlikely to be material given we are talking about a business where one aircraft alone can cost over USD 200 million.

    A related question is whether Inmarsat could have made a mistake in that the post 1707 data came from another plane but somehow got mixed up in their records/databases as having come from MH370. I very much doubt it. I think the data came from MH370 but we know that that is not the whole data and most probably some of the numbers in the logs released in the May 27th document are not ‘raw’ data but are actually derivations from the ‘raw’ data.

    Which is why it is critical, if we are ever to get to the truth, that we see the whole data, both the ‘decoded/formatted/derived’ version and in its original or raw form.

  45. JS said,

    August 9, 2014 at 10:22 am

    I’d point to the Business Software Alliance as proof that there is far more IP theft than you think. I’d also point out the massive efforts that sports channels put into tracking down bars illegally showing their content without the appropriate license. While it may be criminal, I suspect it’s more of a game of cat and mouse, and when it’s discovered it’s handled as a civil matter rather than a criminal matter.

    There are several other factors: apparently some operators don’t want their data out on FlightAware and other sites. So their data is being scrubbed. It wouldn’t be a stretch if some hid their data. Also, there’s apparently a reluctance to pay the extra $10 per flight for tracking a flight via satellite.

    So margins are tight, and concerns over privacy are high. That, to me, provides a motive to cheat. Then, of course, there are the accidental swaps. Those exist already and appear to be something of a maintenance headache. This all reminds me of IP address conflicts, despite some 2 billion of them being available.

    Ultimately, this may be just another coincidence. But we have a sequence, from power-up to power-down, and including all points in between, which roughly matches a known route from takeoff to landing. But yeah, we need more data released.

  46. Alex Siew said,

    August 10, 2014 at 1:15 am

    Swissair Flight 111 crashed due a fire. Excerpts from the main investigation report:

    “… Odour Detected In the Cockpit. The first indication of an abnormal situation was at 0110:38, when the first officer referenced an unusual odour in the cockpit…….

    [as the fire spread]….. Multiple Systems Failures. Starting at 0124:09 and for the rest of the next 92 seconds, the FDR recorded a number of technical failure events that was associated with the failure of aircraft systems….Both flight recorders and the VHF radios…stopped functioning at about 0125:41….. ”

    The information on the ACARS messages transmitted for that flight was in a separate supporting technical document. Just like in the case of MH370, there was a power interruption to the SDU and a log on request some time later. Excerpts:

    “…The installed SDU was manufactured by Honeywell….. The Inmarsat logs indicate that at 0125:52 the AES requested to be logged-on and the log-on was acknowledged at 126:01 as a Class 2 (voice only). The log-on message shows it was an initialization and not a renewal (as occurs if handling from one satellite to another). The installed software would normally prevent a change in log-on class if either voice and data capability were lost. Therefore, the log-on request was a power interruption. The Class 2 log-on indicates that the CMU was no longer available at this time.

    It is not known at what time power to the satellite system was interrupted. It could have occurred any time between 0053:51 and 0125:52. Typically the SDU requires one minute from power on to initiating a log-on if it has been under 24 hours since the last calibration, but it may take two minutes if a more complete calibration is required. There is no way of telling, from the data, the actual time from power on to the log-on request. This indicates the SDU lost power some time after the last recorded message at 0053:56, but powered up between 0123:52 and 0124:52….”.

    Coming back to MH370, according to the ATSB Report of June 26th, the investigation team had also concluded that the 2 log-on requests were also the result of power interruptions. Chris McLaughlin used the phrase ‘power failures’. This conclusion can only mean the log on class at 1825 UTC was different than the class logged on at the beginning of the flight.

    In previous comments, i have made the argument that the log on at 18:25 UTC was a Class 1 (low rate packet data only) as compared to the Class 3 (full data and voice) log on at the start of the flight. This change in class is another indication that the Satcom system was by then operating only in its back up mode consisting of the backup slave SDU transmitting signals directly to the low gain antenna, bypassing the HPA, BSUs and HGA which together with the master SDU and ACARS, were no longer functioning.

  47. Alex Siew said,

    August 10, 2014 at 2:10 am


    On the argument whether the squiggle could have been based on what was observed by the Vietnamese on their radar as per the Preliminary Report.

    The relevant part of the annexure to the Preliminary Report ( List of Actions between 1.38am and 6.14am) reads as follows:

    “…1 01:38:19 Ho Chi Minh first enquired about MH370, informed KL-ATCC that verbal contact was not established with MH370 and radar target was last seen at BITOD.

    ….3 01:46:46 HCM queried about MH370 again, stating that radar contact was established over IGARI but there was no verbal contact. Ho Chi Minh advised that the observed radar blip disappeared at waypoint BITOD.

    …10 02:18:53 ….HCM confirmed earlier information that radar contact lost after BITOD and radio contact was never established…..” .

    So according to what was observed by the Vietnamese ATC on their radar, MH370 disappeared at BITOD. Vietnamese ATC never said anything about seeing MH370 turn around whether after BITOD or otherwise.

    The Vietnamese ATC’s statements are corroborated by the statements of the Malaysian DCA that MH370 disappeared from Malaysian ATC primary radar at 1.30am at around 120nm from the coast at Kota Bahru (ie around BITOD).

    The statement in the June 26th ATSB Report that ‘at 1725 the aircraft deviated from the flight planned route’ is contradicted by both the statements from the Vietnamese ATC and the Malaysian DCA.

    Basically someone calculated that it would take 4 plus minutes for MH370 to travel from IGARI to BITOD 37nm away, on the assumption that the plane had continued to travel at 471 knots, the speed at IGARI, for the 37nm. Thus the time of 1725 (1721+4).

    Problem is, the Malaysian DCA had said on March 8th, and repeated the statements many times in that first week, to the effect that MH370 was still at around BITOD at 1.30am.

    Could the Australians, in compiling the June 26th Report, have inadvertently overlooked the fact that the last ATC primary ‘fix’ was at BITOD at 1.30am?

    It is stated at page 2 of the report, just above the sentence about the purported diversion at 1725:

    ” The final ATC (secondary) radar fix occurred at 1722″.

    2 lines down at page 3, we have this statement:

    ” The final primary radar fix occurred at 1822 (Figure 2)”.

    The Australian Prime Minister may not come across as terribly bright but surely the Australians putting together the report must have asked this question: WHAT ABOUT THE FINAL ATC (PRIMARY) RADAR FIX, MATE?

  48. Alex Siew said,

    August 10, 2014 at 4:36 pm

    @skwosh, @JS,

    @skwosh had asked the question on Duncan’s blog as to why the SDU came back on 1825 UTC and @JS had also posed this question to me some while back. Why this time and not some other time?

    Recent posts by a AndyH (August 10th, 10:58) and Don (August 10th, 15:37) on Duncan’s blog may provide a clue.

    AndyH posed the question whether the alleged diversion at 1725 UTC could have something to do with the log on request at 1825 UTC in terms of the timing. Don said from his research, the satellite may not start pinging at exactly 1 hour interval but it may be up to 256 seconds or 4 minutes and 16 seconds after the hour mark.

    I think Don is right. The log on request for Swissair Flight 111 was at 1.25. 52. The next ping (log on interrogation) from the satellite was recorded at 1.26.12, so about 1 hour 4 minutes 20 seconds later.

    @JS may recall I had postulated that there could have been transmissions from MH370 after 1707 UTC but before 1825 UTC which have not been disclosed by Inmarsat, as there is a gap in the 47 page Inmarsat data log released late May for that period of time.

    According to the Preliminary Report, the secondary radar signal from MH370 ceased at 1.21.13. MYT or 17.21.13 UTC. The first post -1707 UTC log on request was at 18.25.27. That is 1 hour 4 minutes 14 seconds later.

    Did the Satcom system on MH370 transmit something at 1.21.13 or just prior thereto? A ‘fault’ transmission for eg? There were reports that as regards the ADS-B signals, there were abnormal data transmitted just before those signals ceased.

    If there was a transmission from MH370 at 17.21 UTC, the satellite would start pinging the AES around 1 hour to 1 hour 4 minutes later, which may explain the log on request at 1825 UTC.

    Which also leads to the question, if there was a log on at 1600 UTC and a log on at 1825 UTC, should there have been a log off in between, either initiated on the AES’ end or by the satellite?

  49. Alex Siew said,

    August 10, 2014 at 10:18 pm

    How would a B777 glide in the event of a total electrical failure?

    From an article in The Seattle Times dated June 5, 1995 by Byron Acohido called ‘ Computer with Wings- Boeing Ultracomplex 777 Flies Into Debate Over Technology Hazards’:

    “…In the unlikely event of a complete electrical system shutdown, cables from the cockpit to selected spoilers and the horizontal tail section allow the pilots to glide straight and level until the electrical system is restarted…”.

    From The Avionics Handbook:

    “…. Spoiler panel 4 and 11 and the alternate stabilizer pitch trim system are controlled mechanically rather than electrically. Spoilers 4 and 11 are driven directly from control wheel deflectors via a control cable. The alternate horizontal stabilizer control is accomplished by using the pitch trim levers on the flight deck aisle stand…”.

  50. Alex Siew said,

    August 10, 2014 at 10:26 pm

    Excerpt from an article on the electrical system of the B777, a ‘fly-by-wire’ aircraft with a centralized computer, the AIMS :

    “…Are there any backups for the miles of electrical wiring on board? Unfortunately no, so a wiring fire caused by arc-tracking (or a short circuit) is capable of knocking out many systems simultaneously. Unlike the airplane’s hydraulics, electrical wiring has no built in redundancy….”.

  51. Bruce Lamon said,

    August 11, 2014 at 11:55 am

    Alex, your most recent comment prompts me to invite you to be the first to climb aboard my ELT-lithium-battery-fire bandwagon.

    It’s a wiring fire caused by a short circuit. It can induce hypoxia by burning through the fuselage without being structurally catastrophic. http://3.bp.blogspot.com/-VW712AZ0c84/UeYYbidVpJI/AAAAAAAAEC0/OrlT6TVTz_c/s1600/787-fire-damage-eth.jpg

    The pre-conditions appear in other aircraft:

    “After the Heathrow fire, mandatory inspections of the locator beacon device on 787s and other aircraft worldwide revealed a total of 28 with battery wires similarly pinched between case and coverplate.

    Of those, only nine had exposed the wire and six of those were fully charged — indicating that the wire had not made contact with the case to create a short circuit.

    Of the remaining three devices with trapped and exposed wires, two failed benignly, protected by built-in safety features designed to kick in when overheating occurs.

    The one battery that failed spectacularly could have been on any jet — it just happened to be on a 787 Dreamliner.”


    More plausible than a lightning strike in good weather, wouldn’t you agree?

  52. Alex Siew said,

    August 11, 2014 at 7:43 pm


    To me the power outage at 1.21am at IGARI could only have been due to 2 causes (a) a fire, or (b) a lightning strike.

    The evidence favours a lightning strike as the cause:

    1. The apparent instantaneous and total electrical failure at 1.21am.

    If u look at Swissair Flight 111 which crashed due to a fire, the loss of systems was gradual, not instantaneous, as the fire spread. Something occurred to cause all the multiple redundant power sources on MH370 to fail at the same time. To me, only one thing could have caused that, a lightning strike of sufficient intensity to breach the aircraft’s lightning defenses (up to 200,000 Amperes) which would have fried the electrical wiring on board. The B777 is a ‘fly by wire’ aircraft. Although it has several redundant power sources, there is no redundancy in terms of the wiring.

    The weather was reported to be good. The weather pictures previously found on the Wikipedia site on MH370 (since removed) showed light clouds where MH370 was flying through at the time it went missing. According to the Guardian, a pilot who flew in the same region 12 hours earlier reported thunderstorms but nothing that a commercial aircraft could not handle. Accuweather said their records did not show thunderstorms at the time MH370 went missing. Yet a pilot flying in the vicinity at the time MH370 went missing reported seeing limited scattered lightning in the region where MH370 was flying through when it went missing. At IGARI when the outage occurred, MH370 was at 35,000 ft. Lightning strikes at such altitudes are uncommon.

    So we have good weather, light clouds, but also some lightning and if MH370 was struck by lightning, it would have been a strike at a high altitude. All these point to positive lightning. From Wikipedia:

    “Unlike the far more common ‘negative lightning’, positive lightning originates from the positively charged top of the clouds….. A positive lightning bolt can strike…. often in areas experiencing clear or slightly skies: they are known as ‘bolts from the blue’ for this reason…. Positive lightning bolts are considerably hotter and longer than negative lightning. They can develop 6 to 10 times the amount of the charge and voltage of a negative bolt and the discharge current may last 10 times longer. A bolt of positive lightning may carry an electric current of 300,000 Amperes and the potential at the top of the cloud may exceed a billion volts- about 10 times that of negative lightning. During a positive lightning strike, huge amounts of extremely low frequency (ELF) and very low frequency (VLF) radio waves are generated. As a result of their greater power, as well as lack of warning, positive lightning strikes are considerably more dangerous. At the present time, aircraft are not designed to withstand such strikes, since their existence was unknown at the time standards were set, and the dangers unappreciated until the destruction of a glider in 1999….” .

    2. The static/interference and difficulty in establishing radio contact.

    Planes that tried to contact MH370 by emergency radio reported hearing static. The only one that succeeded in making radio contact, MH88, at just after 1.30am, reported hearing a lot of static and interference as well as mumblings from who he thought was the co pilot.

    Static and interference are classic signs of radio and electronic equipment having been electromagnetised, a common effect of lightning. It is also significant that radio contact was made only 9 minutes later at 1.30am, as electromagnetization is typically transient, ie the effects wear off over time.

    The mumblings could be a sign the co pilot was still dazed at that time. Pilots have been known to have been dazed or even knocked out or blinded momentarily by a lightning strike.

    3. The St Elmo’s fire observed by the Kiwi on the oil rig.

    Mike Mckay said he saw a burning object in the sky. He also said the object appeared to be in one piece and the flames only lasted 10 to 15 seconds. I would contend that if that burning object was indeed MH370, what Mckay saw was not a real fire but St Elmo’s fire on MH370 (one piece, momentary flames). Although typically blue or violet in colour, St Elmo’s fire can also be orange or blue orange in colour and thus from a distance be mistaken for a real fire.

    4. The disintegration of the cabin of MH370, as what the pilots were reported to have yell, in the SOS call at 1.43am reportedly picked up by the US 7th Fleet.

    The cabin floor beams of a B777 are made of composite material, CFRP, carbon fibre reinforced polymer. In the 1999 glider plane incident, the plane made of composite material disintegrated in midair. The AAIB in their investigation report described the delamination effect on composite materials from a lightning strike. Basically, the composite material ends up getting separated or shedded ie disintegrating.

    So we have all the signs that MH370 was struck by a lightning strike of an unusual intensity: the instantaneous and total electrical failure at 1.21am, the electromagnetization of radio/electronic equipment resulting in static/interference and the difficulty in making radio contact, the St Elmo’s fire observed, the disintegrating of the composite part of MH370. And we have an eye witness saying that he saw lightning in the area where MH370 was flying through at the time MH370 was flying through that area.

    In conclusion, the evidence is more consistent with lightning being the precipitating cause rather than a fire. Swissair Flight 111 would be a typical example of a plane crash precipitated by a fire. In that case, the systems failed one by one as the fire spread and there were communications between the pilots and ATC before all systems were lost just prior to the plane crashing into the sea.

  53. Alex Siew said,

    August 11, 2014 at 11:11 pm


    At this stage, it is not important to be able to pinpoint the exact cause of the power outage at 1.21am. When the plane is found, the cause of the outage can be ascertained from an examination of the wreckage.

    What is important now is to find the plane and the remains of the 239 passengers. The evidence of the 2 ATCs show, beyond the shadow of any doubt, that the plane had lost all power at IGARI at 1.21am and was from then onwards gliding unpowered and dropping in altitude in the process, reaching BITOD at around 1.30am when it disappeared from the radar screens of both ATCs.

    The B777 is designed in such a way that even in the event of a complete electrical failure, the pilots can mechanically move some levers located in the cockpit to get the plane to glide ‘straight and level’. The pilots of MH370 must have done just that, for the plane remained on a straight path after it lost power at IGARI at close to optimum gliding speed, all things including the wind factor considered. The likely crash site thus would be around 100 nm from IGARI at the 40 degree path the plane was flying at the time it lost power.

    This area of the South China Sea was never or hardly searched. On March 11th the authorities announced that the search would be expanded to a radius of 100 nm from IGARI but on the very next day the search ended for all practical purposes when Malaysia received word from AAIB/Inmarsat that the plane had supposedly flown on for another 7 hours.

    It is a double tragedy, the plane crashed and then the search for the plane and survivors got all messed up. No one is arguing the authorities should not search the Indian Ocean but to not search the South China Sea at the same time defies all logic and common sense and indicates, to me at least, that some people would rather that the plane not be found.

  54. Alex Siew said,

    August 12, 2014 at 1:14 am

    Brock in a recent comment on Duncan’s blog made the argument that the Inmarsat data could have been distorted at its source or by interpretation. Victor in a reply asked Brock to explain as to how such data may have been so distorted.

    In fact Victor had in April made the very same argument.

    On the 24th at 23:04:

    ” For the later ping times (18.29 UTC and later) i do not believe any offset correction is applied by the SATCOM module. The residuals are too high implying a very inaccurate offset correction algorithm….. Why would the offset correction not be applied at the later times but applied at the earlier times? To provide an answer, I attempted to find what common element might turn off ACARS while also turn off this offset correction. After some research, I found there is a Core Processor Module in the AIMS in the electronic bay. Removal of this card would disable ACARS and also prevent the SATCOM from getting updates of speed and position from the AIMS….”

    On the 25th at 12:01:

    ” My theory is based on a broken data path between the AIMS and the SATCOM. I arrived at this theory by trying to understand/reconcile the BFO graph. A damaged and disconnected cable would have the same effect as a pulled card… I would agree that any disruption of the data path between the AIMS and STACOM would have the same effect of disabling or degrading the offset correction and also disable ACARS….”

    Don had chipped in by describing the above theory as ‘very plausible’.

    A lightning strike that breached MH370′s lightning defenses would have fried all the wires or cables, thus severing the data path between the AIMS and SATCOM, disabling ACARS and leaving the SDU in a ‘degraded’ state.

  55. GuardedDon said,

    August 12, 2014 at 4:02 am


    Please consider the following related to, above, (http://tmfassociates.com/blog/2014/07/15/new-statement-re-mh370/#comment-42096)

    IGARI to BITOD is 37nm. At 470kts that’s flying time of 4m40sec. (not 9min).

    It’s entirely feasible that a controlled glide from IGARI would have reached the Vietnamese coast, IGARI to Cau Ma coast is 120nm.

    ‘TWcobra’, a contributor at metabunk identified as a Qantas A330 pilot reported the following on 9th Mar:

    “The intriguing part of this is the lack of reports from marine traffic regarding an explosion or sightings of a crash.
    The Gulf of Siam is the busiest stretch of water I have ever seen in my travels. The number of fishing boats with lights that can be seen on a clear night is mind boggling… How any fish survive to be caught is the first thing that springs to mind. How none of these boats seemed to witness anything is very strange.”

    Please do note that the quotes you have included in your posts represent the assessments of individuals at a given point in time using the available information at that time. At the end of April MoTM hadn’t released their preliminary report, the Inmarsat Signalling Unit Log hadn’t been released and other invaluable pieces of information were yet to be shared.

    There are sources on the web where lightning strikes are logged, try some enquiries to corroborate your idea. Given the specific reason, time and location of interest I would be surprised if an enquiry wouldn’t elicit a response:

  56. Alex Siew said,

    August 12, 2014 at 7:03 am


    1. Thank you for pointing out that IGARI to BITOD would only take 4 plus minutes if the plane was flying at 471 knots. But since the plane reached BITOD only at 1.30am and it was at IGARI at 1.21am, meaning it took the plane 9 minutes to reach BITOD, obviously the plane was not flying at 471 knots for the 37 nm between the 2 waypoints. The speed in fact works out to around 240 to 250 knots, which just happens to be the speed a B777 would glide at, if it had lost all power.

    2. According to the June 26th ATSB Report, the maximum unpowered glide for the B777 is 120 nm. However, MH370 would most probably have glided for less than the theoretical maximum for 2 reasons (a) there was a wind of approximately 16 knots at 65 degrees ( E-NE) according to Brian Anderson, effectively a head/side wind, and (b) the pilots might have taken a bit of time to adjust the levers at the cockpit for an optimum glide (see my previous comment re the mechanical controls at the cockpit of certain spoilers etc for a ‘straight and level’ glide).

    3. In any event, a straight glide would not have taken MH370 in the direction of Ca Mau peninsula but would be along the direction to Conson island instead. If one estimates a 100 nm glide distance for MH370, that would mean MH370 hitting sea level to the south east of the southern tip of Vietnam. (100 nm from IGARI on the 40 degree flightpath from IGARI to BITOD, or less than 40 degrees given the wind factor).

    4. If I am not mistaken, the comments of this TWCobra related to the reports very early on coming from the Vietnamese press that the plane had crashed somewhere in the Gulf of Siam, specifically off Tho Chu island which is southwest of Phu Quoc island, all of which located in the Gulf of Siam. I am of the view that the plane had crashed at the South China Sea, south or south east to the southern tip of Vietnam. I am not aware of any reports of fishing vessels at this area at the relevant time, 1.43 to 1.46am March 8th, 2014. What I do know is that USS Pinckney and USS Kidd were at the South China Sea at that time and it took the US 7th Fleet all of 49 minutes from the time the Malaysians announced the plane was missing, to issuing a statement that USS Pinckney was already en route to the southern coast of Vietnam to look for the plane. The Americans do work very fast when they are so inclined, it seems.

    5. As regards the quotes of certain contributors’ previous comments, I did not intend to suggest that these people still hold the same views presently. Only they know what they really believe, at this moment in time.

    6. I take note of your suggestion about collecting further evidence to further support the case that the plane had crashed at the South China Sea but am of the humble view that there is plenty of evidence already for such a case which evidence I have outlined in previous comments (ad nauseam to some) including an eye witness account of lightning, in contrast to the theory that the plane had flown on for another 7 hours to the South Indian Ocean for which, in the minds of many including some on Duncan’s blog, there is not a single shred of evidence. Perhaps those who subscribe to that theory should likewise be mindful of the need to come up with evidence to support their case.

    7. I look forward to your update on the military radar coverage for the region.

  57. Alex Siew said,

    August 12, 2014 at 10:56 pm

    Tim has started a new thread unrelated to MH370, so this will be my last comment here.

    I would like to express my gratitude to Tim for giving the opportunity to people like me to post comments all these months.

    To the Independent Group, please give due consideration to the implications of the evidence of the 2 ATCs that the plane disappeared from secondary radar at 1.21am at IGARI and from ATC primary radar at 1.30am at around BITOD, 37 nm away.

    These are the key facts upon which any bona fide investigation must be premised.

  58. Alex Siew said,

    August 13, 2014 at 1:34 am

    An addendum to my reply to Don.

    There were reports very early on (around noon of March 8th local time) that Vietnamese search personnel had detected an ELT signal around 20 nm from the southern coast of Ca Mau peninsula.

  59. Alex Siew said,

    August 17, 2014 at 7:25 pm

    I had resolved not to post any more comments but recharged by the latest developments on Duncan’s blog, I would like to point out some things.


    In all likelihood, u have already seen this document, a patent description called ‘Method and apparatus for Doppler compensation in a satellite communication US 6008758 A’, but if u haven’t, perhaps u can take a look at it to see if it would be helpful in terms of understanding the different ways of calculating the Doppler correction generally and for different channels (T, R and C).

    1. The BFOs for the 2 calls.

    Regarding the Inmarsat data log, one thing that has never been explained is how GES ID 301 came into the picture. U may have already noted that the C channel assignment for the call at 18:39 was assigned by this GES 301 instead of GES 305. Compared this with the call at 23:13 which C channel was done through GES 305 instead.

    The BFOs for the 18:39 call (86 to 90 Hz) have always stood out. The BFOs for when the plane was still at KL after channels had been assigned, happened to be of similar magnitude.

    In contrast, the BFOs for the 23:13 call were around 216 which were roughly in line with preceding and subsequent R channel transmissions.

    2. The alleged fixed offset of 4600 us.

    According to the June 26 ATSB Report at page 55, (a) the post 1707 UTC log on requests were found to have a ‘fixed offset of 4600 us relative to the LLA message exchange by inspecting the historical data for this aircraft terminal’, and (b) the subsequent messages during the log sequence [ie the LLAs] have ‘variable delay’ and thus their BTOs ‘should be ignored’.

    The transmissions showing the first log on request when the plane was powered up at KL have been excluded from the Inmarsat data log, so we do not know if this log on request also showed a fixed offset of 4600 us but please note the LLA for that log on request, the very first entry in the Inmarsat data log, showed a BTO of 14820 which is in line with the BTOs of subsequent transmissions.

    So if the original log on request also had a fixed offset 4600 us, its BFO would be around 10220, which would be out of whack with the other BFO values for that period.

    Alternatively, the BTO for the LLA of 14820 was correct (ie no variable delay) and the original log request did not have any ‘fixed offset’. Which would beg the question as to why the transmissions relating to the first log on request were ‘normal’ but the transmissions for the 2 subsequent log on requests showed such ‘fixed offset’ and ‘variable delay’.

  60. Alex Siew said,

    August 18, 2014 at 12:26 am

    @JS, @Skwosh,

    In previous comments I have pointed out the correlation between (a) the BFOs and the satellite velocity with BFO= satellite velocity in knots plus fixed offset of around 90, and (b) the correlation between the BTOs for the later pings and the movement of the satellite in the z-axis, with each km in movement corresponding to 8+ microseconds..

    I have also just noticed that there is a correlation between the BTOs and the BFOs for the later pings. The ratio of the BTO to the BFO for these pings works out to be around 71.

    These later pings ( 21.41, 22.41 and 00.11 UTC), unlike the earlier pings, do not have the problems of potential inaccuracy in values caused by warming up/rebooting or eclipse effects.

    The ratio of the BTO to BFO for certain other transmissions at 18:27:03, 18:27:04 and 18:27:08, all also works out to be 71.

    The ratio for both the 2 post 1707 UTC log on requests at 18:25:27 and 00:19:29 works out to be around 120.

    So putting aside the transmissions with purported ‘fixed offset’ or ‘variable delay’ and those that may have been affected by the eclipse/rebooting, the post 1707 UTC R-Channel transmissions all have similar ratios of BTO to BFO (of around 71).

    I would be grateful if u guys can give some thought to the implications of such correlation between the BFOs and BTOs.

  61. Skwosh said,

    August 18, 2014 at 4:21 am

    Hello Alex! I fear I/we may be abusing Tim’s blog’s comments system – but here are my thoughts on some of your points:

    (*) I had noticed – as you have – that the 16:00:13.406 (first entry in the published log) 0×15 LOLOA does *not* have a wild/variable BTO, and I was going to include this among my list of ‘anomalies’ (it would be an anomaly because it *wasn’t* an anomaly, if you see what I mean) but I decided against it for now because we don’t know for sure what the messages prior to it are. However, I agree, it is *very* difficult to imagine that this initial LOLOA from the aircraft could not have occurred immediately following a log-on because it is itself immediately answered (the second entry in the published log) by a P-Channel LOLOA from the ground-station.

    (*) In my recent perusal of the log I had not myself noticed the different GES ID for some of the P-Channel messages associated with the first phone call (despite them being in plain sight – I am useless a Where’s Wally) – though now I come to think of it I do recall someone (probably you Alex!) having mentioned this before, and I also now vaguely remember that Don had looked at the phone calls in some detail a while back (funny how things can fail to ‘register’ first time around) – I haven’t yet got into looking carefully at the specification for the protocols for phone calls and the C-Channel messages – my *guess* would be that this is perhaps down to the call originating (entering the Inmarsat system) at a different ground station, and that this different GES ID should only affect how the data is routed around the Inmarsat network on the ground rather than how it would be handled for transmission to the aircraft – but even thinking about this ‘guess’ makes me realise that I’m probably making a lot of assumptions for which I don’t really have any basis, and that there is still a lot I don’t understand about how it is all supposed to work. I will try to find some time to go back through comments to find where Don and others have talked about the phone-calls previously, along with my attempt to understand this part of the specification.

    (*) Regarding the Doppler compensation and BFOs: I guess one possibility, which I know has also been discussed from time to time by others previously, is that the satellite unit might have gone into some sort of ‘fall-back’ for its Doppler correction after the ‘re-boot’ (perhaps because position/speed/heading information was no-longer available to it) and was then using a ‘perfect’ Doppler correction system based directly on measuring the frequency of an incoming transmission (P-Channel presumably). If this were the case then I think the only signal in the BFO would then be the sum of the fixed offset with the satellite to ground Doppler shift (‘D3′ in old terminology) and the satellite up/down shift errors. We are now fairly sure that the satellite to ground Doppler is only partially compensated by the EAFC on the ground – and so this ‘partial D3′ signal would indeed, at least qualitatively, resemble the later BFO values: a substantial time varying frequency shift strongly correlated with the satellite motion. *If* this (SDU fall-back to perfect Doppler compensation) were the case then all the consensus BFO calculations (post ‘re-boot’) would be completely out the window because the BFO would not contain any useful information at all, and then the whole north/south debate would have to be re-opened (and, as I’m sure you understand, that is definitely not something I think any of us should consider advocating unless we have very good reason to do so). Last time I looked at this I concluded that you can’t make the numbers fit unless you fiddle with the fixed offset, and that even then you don’t get a very good fit – but that was a while back now (pre EAFC revelations) – and I guess it is always important to re-visit things that one may have dismissed in the past in the light of water that’s flowed under the bridge since. I’m not sure if anyone (of us ‘blog-people’) knows for sure if the satellite unit(s?) on the aircraft *could* have such a fall-back capability – or indeed if anyone knows with reasonable certainty that such a capability does *not* exist in the satellite equipment that was on-board (I’d be *very* glad to be put right on this).

  62. Alex Siew said,

    August 18, 2014 at 6:46 pm


    As usual I hold a dissenting view, this time in respect of the EAFC purported partial compensation. I don’t really buy Inmarsat’s story on this partial compensation, nor the ‘empirical workaround’ (second signal etc). Perhaps I just have a suspicious mind, but in my humble view, when one wants to obfuscate the formula for the calculation of something, one way to do it is to say a component is only partially compensated without specifying the percentage of compensation and another way is to lump this purportedly partially compensated value with another value to come out with an aggregate value without showing a breakdown (Table 4 of the ATSB Report being a case in point?)

    Inmarsat first came into the picture on March 14th when they issued a statement that “routine automated signals were registered’ on their network from flight MH370.

    However, we now know that some of those signals were neither ‘routine’ nor ‘automated’ and ALL OF THOSE SIGNALS (the post 1707 UTC transmissions) were NOT registered on their network the way normal signals would have been registered because when Inmarsat first pulled the logs for ALL the transmissions from MH370 on March 9th to be forwarded to SITA, THE POST 1707 UTC SIGNALS WERE NOT IN THOSE LOGS. See the NYT article previously cited. According to Inmarsat, these signals were detected only after they went back to look at their databases etc ‘scouring’ for any ‘trace’ of MH370.

    Thus alarm bells should have started ringing already in the minds of those studying these signals. How come these signals did not appear in the logs in the first place?

    No one other than @JS has ventured a view.

    Then on March 25th, the authorities came out with the Doppler analysis. Remember the ‘possible turn’ with BFO value of 273 highlighted on the graph produced that day?

    2 months later on May 27th, Inmarsat released the 47 data log. What was suggested as a ‘turn’ turned out to be a Log on/Log off Acknowledge following a log on request seconds earlier.

    1 month later on June 26th, we have the ATSB Report where it is stated that the readings for this particular signal (at least in terms of the BTO of 51700) ‘should be ignored’. It is also conceded in the report that log on requests in the middle of a flight ‘is not common’.

    So what was Inmarsat thinking on March 14th when they said ‘routine automated signals were registered’ on their network in respect of MH370? Were they lying or did they just not know the true nature of some of these signals back then?

    When the Inmarsat data log first came out, I thought Inmarsat had played a cruel joke on everyone.

    The BTO is supposed to represent the distance of MH370 from the satellite. Let just take the first 3 post 1707 UTC signals. The first BTO reading, at 18:25:27 UTC is 17120. The second signal 7 seconds later at 18:25:34 UTC is 51700. The third signal 1 1/2 minutes later at 18:27:03 UTC is 12560.

    Thus in less than 2 minutes, we have the BTO going from 17120 to 51700 to 12560. Could MH370 have traveled such distances in those 2 minutes?

    We had to wait for 1 month before Inmarsat came up with an explanation in the form of the ATSB Report.

    The first signal is said to have a ‘fixed offset’ of 4600us, which one can only tell from ‘inspecting the historical data for this aircraft terminal’. In other words, this reading was wrong by a mile and u would not know it unless u go back and check previous data. Really?

    How about the second signal? This one according to Inmarsat has ‘variable delay’ and ‘should be ignored’. In other words, we have no idea how this reading came about and thus we are going to trash it.

    How about the third signal? Well, since the first was off by a mile and the second even more off and is going straight to the trash bin, the third one has to be right, no?

  63. Alex Siew said,

    August 18, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    Incidentally, the last transmission from the plane in the Inmarsat data log before the ‘pings’ ie the one at 17:07:48 UTC had 131 as the BFO and 15620 as the BTO. The ratio of BTO to BFO works out to around 120, the same ratio as the next transmission from the plane at 18:25:27 (the log on request) with BFO reading of 142 and BTO of 17120.

  64. Alex Siew said,

    August 21, 2014 at 1:06 am


    From the various radars shown on Duncan’s latest post, it is obvious the Thais’ story about their radar at Surat Thani having picked up a signal, has many parallels with the Malaysians’ claim that their Butterworth radar had tracked a signal which was ‘possibly’ MH370.

    1. Just like for the Butterworth radar, IGARI would be at or close to or even beyond the maximum range of the military radar at Surat Thani (near Ko Samui).

    2. Just like for the case of Butterworth, no one actually saw a plane turned around but only saw a signal emerging, flying in the opposite direction of MH370. The pertinent part of the various reports of this Thais’ story which only surfaced on March 18th:

    “….Montol said that at 1.28am, Thai military radar ‘was able to detect a signal, which was not a normal signal, of a plane flying in the opposite direction opposite from MH370,’ back toward Kuala Lumpur. The plane later turned right, toward Butterworth…. The radar signal was infrequent…… He said he did not know exactly when Thai radar last detected the plane….”.

    3. Surat Thani was not the closest Thai radar to that part of Malaysia, with the radar at Hat Yai (Khok Muang) much closer to the north east of Peninsular Malaysia. In Malaysia’s case, the closest radar, at Gong Kedak and the ATC at Subang which would have returns from all Malaysian military radar, never said anything about MH370 turning back or picking any signal after 1.30am. In Thailand’s case, the ATCs at Thailand had said they never saw anything that could have been MH370 and Thailand’s military had said on March 15th to the effect that none of their radar including the one at Hat Yai had picked up anything. This report from the Bangkok Post, Thailand’s leading newspaper on March 15th:

    “…..The air force said on Saturday that its radar system did not detect the plane after the new information indicated that it could have passed over the northern part of the country. ‘Our most updated information in the radar system was in Hat Yai where the air force detected MH370 flying out of Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia. That was the first and last time we detected MH370,’ air force spokesman AM Monthon Sutchukorn said…..”.

    4. The same questions would arise again, how come the radar at Hat Yai which was much closer and the Thailand ATCs which would have the returns from all Thailand military radar, did not pick up anything but Surat Thani did? Once again, it looks like a case of a signal emerging at the fringe of coverage (of the Surat Thani radar) coming from another direction, being ‘transformed’ into a ‘turnback’ and a further leap in deduction that the signal was MH370.

    5. The Malaysians never said when the signal which purportedly appeared on the Butterworth radar, first emerged. But Thailand gave a time for when they supposedly first picked up the signal on the Surat Thani radar, 1.28am.

    6. But according to the Malaysians, MH370 was tracked until 1.30am up to 120nm off the coast of Kota Bahru ie around BITOD.

    How could MH370 have been flying back to KL at 1.28am when it was still on its way to BITOD (from IGARI) at such point in time?

  65. Alex Siew said,

    August 21, 2014 at 2:15 am


    Please also note that in addition to the various military radar depicted in Duncan’s latest post, there were also the various primary radar located at the airports around the border region between Thailand and Malaysia. All such airports would have Terminal Approach Radar (TRACON) with a typical range of 60 nm which is primary radar and typically co mounted with the airport’s secondary radar. TRACON radar is kept on continuously other than during maintenance.

    On Malaysia’s side, the airports would include Kota Bahru on the northeast coast and Penang and Langkawi on the northwest side.

    Could MH370 have flown back across Malaysia towards the Andaman Seas on the path depicted in the Preliminary Report and the ATSB Report without being detected by all these military and TRACON radar of Malaysia, Thailand and Indonesia? One look at the diagrams showing the radars in Duncan’s latest post and there can only be one answer: NO.

    If Malaysia has a radar recording showing a plane possibly being MH370 making a turnback and flying on as depicted in those diagrams in the Preliminary Report and the ATSB Report, why hasn’t this recording been produced?

    What excuse could there possibly be for such refusal to produce?

    The usual superficial rubbish about a country’s reluctance to reveal its radar capabilities? How could showing a radar recording of a plane flying across one’s country (ie right in the middle of the country’s airspace) be construed as betraying one’s radar capabilities or in any way jeopardize the country’s security.

    Not wanting to reveal radar capabilities would only be a valid consideration for other countries which had caught MH370 on radar from further away, say outside the known range of that country’s radar capabilities. Such considerations, obviously, would not apply to Malaysia.

  66. Bruce Lamon said,

    August 21, 2014 at 11:00 am

    Alex, “What excuse could there possibly be for such refusal to produce?”

    I’m more or less convinced by some of your comments and other information that Malaysian radar did not track MH370 after 17:21. You think it’s because it never crossed the peninsula; I think it’s because the radar was not functional. (Scott Alexander posted a good list of several possible screw-ups on Duncan’s blog.)

    I have seen somewhere that Hishammuddin is in line to be prime minister and from the 4 Corners documentary it appears he is taking heat from the opposition for allowing an unidentified aircraft saunter through Malaysian airspace. It also appears that Malaysia has recently made a significant investment to upgrade it primary radar.

    It is hard for me to imagine a justification for such an investment from the government’s standpoints beyond the usual opportunities for bribes and kickbacks to governmental officials.

    Along comes MH370, and, unbelievably, an occasion has arisen which might justify the investment. But for whatever reason, nothing about where it went can be teased out of your shiny new system. You spend 5 days looking in the South China Sea, while begging your neighbors for their radar. In desperation, you have to go all in with Inmarsat, because the Thai’s won’t show their radar until March 18 and the antiquated Indonesian radar yields no information.

    If you were the Defence Minister and Acting Transport Minister, and like most politicians, place the highest priority on winning the next election, would you refuse to produce evidence that your radar was not working? Yes, you would.

    Remember it’s not just evidence of MH370 crossing the peninsula the Malaysian’s have not produced. I know we disagree on this point, but I still think that the Gong Bedak/Pukit Buteri primary radar could not have operating. Otherwise, the primary radar signal would not have disappeared at 1:30 a.m. or thereabouts. Instead it would have tracked MH370 at least until its demise under your theory shortly after 1:43 a.m..

  67. Alex Siew said,

    August 21, 2014 at 8:52 pm


    I despair that we cannot agree on the cause of MH370′s disappearance from primary radar at 1.30am, as this is a very critical point and u are one of the sane voices in this saga.

    I have in a previous comment quoted from Professor Stupples on how a plane can disappear from (primary) radar. Basically his explanation was that the plane must have at the point of disappearance gone below the horizon of the radar in question. He also gave an estimate as to how low MH370 would have to go before it would go below the horizon of the military radar tracking it at that point in time: 6000 meters (20,000ft). If we go by Dave Whittington’s drop figures, if MH370 had lost power at IGARI, it would have dropped to around that height by the time it reached BITOD.

    The other possible explanation is there was an explosion at 1.30am, as a result of which MH370 disintegrated into pieces too small to be picked by primary radar thereafter. I do not believe there was any such explosion for 2 main reasons:

    1. There is zero evidence of anyone on MH370 having any nefarious intent.

    2. An explosion of a B777 in the sky would be picked up by US and other satellites and the Americans had early on advised their satellites did not detect any such explosion.

    To my knowledge, Malaysia never had the occasion to have to scramble jets to intercept an unidentified plane, so if the radar at Gong Kedak were for purely military purposes, I can understand if it might been inoperative that night for one reason or another (maintenance/servicing, power failure, someone forgot to switch on, malfunction, etc).

    But the Gong Kedak radar was and is the only en route radar servicing the the ATC of Peninsular Malaysia located at Subang (KL) for all flights going through the northeast airspace of Malaysia from all directions (whether destined for Malaysia or simply flying through such airspace) and if it was down that night, news of such inoperation would have leaked out by now. There is no indication that the ATC at Subang was operating under anything but normal conditions that night.

    On the morning of March 8th MYT at around 11am, at the first press conference held by Malaysia Airlines, its CEO Ahmad Jauhari said MH370 was last tracked on radar about 120 nm off Kota Bahru ie around BITOD. This was widely reported as a search on Google would attest.

    Later in the afternoon, in another press conference, the head of Malaysian DCA and the person in charge of the search then, Datuk Azharrudin, said the plane disappeared from the DCA’s radar at 1.30am. I have quoted his remarks in several of my previous comments. He repeated this statement in the days that followed in subsequent press conferences where he clarified that MH370 disappeared from secondary radar at 1.21am and from ATC primary radar at 1.30am and that Malaysia ATC used both such forms of radar. See for eg the extract from Wall Street Journal on March 13th, cited previously.

    The Malaysians’ statement on this matter are corroborated by the statements of Ho Chi Minh City ATC that night as recorded in the annexure to the Preliminary Report, that ‘radar contact’ was established at IGARI but MH370 as a radar blip disappeared at BITOD. Ho Chi Minh ATC did not give a time for the plane’s disappearance but from the annexure we know they called Subang ATC at 1.38am.

    Thus the evidence of both ATCs are corroborative and consistent, that MH370 disappeared from the ATCs’ respective primary radar at around 1.30 at around BITOD. From the Malaysian side, the Gong Kedak radar was the closest radar to IGARI/BITOD and all indications are that it was this radar that was tracking MH370 from IGARI to BITOD between 1.21am to 1.30am, and which radar returns were transmitted to the radar screens at Subang ATC as well as to the air force center of operations referred to in the Preliminary Report.

    To those who are arguing against a conspiracy, they would have to come up with an explanation as to why (a) both the Preliminary Report and the ATSB Report conspicuously omitted any mention of the fact that the plane was last seen on ATC primary radar at BITOD at 1.30am, and (b) in conflict with such evidence, the ATSB Report stated without quoting a source, that MH370 had deviated from its flight-planned route at 1725 UTC or 1.25am.

    In my humble view, the reason Malaysia has refused to show the purported radar track of a plane making a turnback and flying back across Peninsular Malaysia, is simply because this radar track does not exist in the first place with the diagrams of flight paths in the various reports a mere connecting of certain dots seen on the Butterworth radar, which dots can be proven or ascertained to be NOT MH370, upon review of any of the following, (a) the composite radar screen at the air force center of Malaysia (b) the composite radar screen at ATC Subang (c) the radar screen of Gong Kedak (d) the radar screen of the military radar at Ca Mau peninsula (e) the composite radar screen of Ho Chi Minh City ATC (f) the radar screen of the Hat Yai military radar, and (g) the composite radar screen of Thailand ATC.

    In a court of law, there is a principle of evidence called the presumption of adverse inference. Basically what it means is that if a person asserts something and says he is in possession of evidence to support his assertion but he refuses to produce or disclose such evidence, the court will invoke the presumption that the evidence in his possession is not in his favour or adverse to his case.

    While we are on the subject of the law of evidence, absence of evidence is evidence of absence. It may not be conclusive evidence of absence but it would be prima facie evidence of absence, meaning to say an inference can be drawn of the absence unless and until such time there is evidence to the contrary.

    Thus if there is no evidence MH370 had turned or flown back across Peninsular Malaysia even after 5 months of ‘investigation’, the conclusion can be drawn that MH370 did not so turn or fly back. Those who assert otherwise bear the burden of proving otherwise.

  68. Alex Siew said,

    August 21, 2014 at 11:56 pm


    Can i seek your assistance on another point.

    Mike Mckay said in his email:

    ” The sea surface current at our location is 2-2.23 knots in the direction of 225-230. The wind direction has been E-ENE averaging 15-20 knots”.

    According to Brian Anderson, the wind at IGARI was around 65 degrees at 16 knots.

    Does that mean the sea current was in an opposite direction to the wind that night, generally speaking? Do u have a link to any diagram showing the direction of the sea current at around the coast of the southern tip of Vietnam for March 7th/8th?

    I am trying to figure out, among other things, on the assumption the plane had crashed 20nm of the southern tip of Vietnam, where the surface debris would have floated to, in the following days.

  69. Alex Siew said,

    August 22, 2014 at 12:46 am


    Would it be terribly shocking if the truth is as follows:

    1. That MH370 was hit by the lightning seen by the pilot flying in the vicinity?

    2. That the co-pilot of MH370 during the radio contact with MH88 on the emergency frequency at 1.30am had actually said the plane had lost power and this could be heard on the tape recording of that call when analyzed?

    3. That Mike McKay saw MH370 on St Elmo’s fire

    4. That one of the military ships of the US 7th Fleet patrolling at the South China Sea did pick up an SOS call from MH370 at 1.43am, just before the pilots ditched the plane

    5. That the plane ditched just off the southern coast of Vietnam as the US 7th Fleet had originally thought, approximately 20 nm from the southern tip of Ca Mau peninsula

    6. That a portion of the rear fuselage where the Satcom terminal and low gain antenna were located, remained afloat for a few hours after the ditching

    7. That one of the emergency beacons on MH370 transmitted its signal for a brief period before sinking deep into the sea

  70. Bruce Lamon said,

    August 22, 2014 at 11:58 am

    Thanks, Alex. I reiterate my regrets at being unable to reciprocate information. I have seen nothing specific about the air or sea currents in the South China Sea that night. Perhaps this more general discussion would be helpful: http://iprc.soest.hawaii.edu/newsletters/newsletter_sections/iprc_climate_vol4_2/south_china_sea.pdf

    Some random comments on your other points.

    I tend to discount Stupples because in the BBC documentary his overlays disagreed with Don’s as to radar locations and because his radar range estimate were significantly lower than other sources I trust including Don and now Duncan.

    If I am interpreting correctly Duncan’s kml file for Gong Bedak (“M2″) at 20,000 feet, the primary radar range extends more than half way to Vietnam from BITOD. https://www.dropbox.com/sh/ezs6imv367w8xqb/AABB1xY25HtB6YR6SDtwMhSQa/M2_20kft.kml?dl=0

    I have understood that MH370 disappeared from secondary radar at 17:21 or 17:30 or whenever it disappeared. E.g. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Wht8irZHiII at 22:32 (4Corners documentary). I understand that ATC operates both primary and secondary radar, but do not understand that it displays information from both systems about the same plane on the same screen, and/or that it calls up the primary when the secondary detection drops out. (I understand that IGARI/BITOD is close to the outer range of the secondary radar detection, which would of course explain its disappearance at about that time.) You refer I think to the display as a “composite” (which seems like a stronger term than “integrated” in this context)–can you cite or link to your basis?

    Re your “terribly shocking” scenario, obviously something highly unlikely happened, and I think it was probably something no one has yet guessed. To me the weakness of your theory is that it requires two pretty much independent but highly unlikely occurrences (1 and 6), compounded by what I would consider unusually severe investigative incompetence and cover-up (2, 4, 5 and 7) for it to be correct.

  71. Alex Siew said,

    August 23, 2014 at 8:49 pm


    Thank you for your reply. As i understand it, what is displayed on the screens at an ATC is derived from data/returns from all radar stations in the country, both secondary and primary. There are 2 main locations for radar stations (a) at or around airports, where typically there would be both primary TRACON radar and secondary radar, co mounted together and (b) en route long range radar stations typically located at airforce bases and having a dual military ATC function.

    The data/returns from all the radar stations get piped down to the ATC in real time which are then ‘processed’ or ‘integrated’, with the end result being shown on the monitoring screens of the ATC.

    On such screens there would be various dots/traces/blips each representing an aircraft, derived from all radar ie both secondary and primary. Superimposed or right next to such dots will be the the aircraft identification details in a ‘tag’ or ‘label’ showing the 4 digit squawk code and also the altitude, derived from the secondary radar signal emitted from such aircraft.

    If the aircraft’s SSR transponder stops transmitting, the tag or label will disappear, leaving only the dot which is now derived solely from primary radar returns.

    The Preliminary Report has the details as to when MH370′s SSR signal ceased. At page 3:

    “…At 01:21:04 MYT, MH370 was observed on the radar screen at KLATCC as it passed over waypoint IGARI. At 01:21:13 MYT the radar label for MH370 disappeared from the radar screen at LUMPUR RADAR KLATCC..” .

    At page 4:

    “……..the last ACARS message occurred at 1:07:29 MYT, the last secondary radar detection at 1:21:13 MYT….”.

    Likewise, it is stated in the ATSB Report that “…The final ATC (secondary) radar fix occurred at 1722…”.

    However, both the Preliminary Report and the ATSB Report omitted any mention of when MH370 was last seen on ATC primary radar. For this information, we have to go back to the statements of Malaysia Airlines, the Malaysian DCA and Vietnamese ATC which i have quoted in previous comments and which can be summed as follows: after the label fell off at 1.21am just after IGARI, the dot that remained on the screen continued moving along the path it was on, reaching 120 nm off Kota Bahru ie around BITOD at 1.30am, at which time the dot disappeared altogether from the screen.

    I hear what u are saying about the possibility of the Gong Kedak radar not being operative that night and the implications of the range of that radar. However, the fact that MH370 disappeared from BOTH the radar screen at Subang ATC and the radar screen at Ho Chi Minh City ATC at the same spot (ie BITOD) and around the same time (1.30am), indicates very strongly that (a) the Gong kedak radar was operating that night, and (b) the dot disappeared at such time and spot because it had gone below the horizon of both the radar over the Vietnamese side (presumably located at Ca Mau peninsula) and the radar at Gong Kedak.

    At BITOD, the plane was traveling towards the radar at Vietnam, so the issue of the plane disappearing from such radar due to the range of that radar, would not arise. And it does not look like the Malaysians were lying about having continued to track the plane on ATC primary radar until 1.30am to 120nm off Kota Bahru as their story is consistent with what the Vietnamese said they saw that night on their screen.

    Incidentally, BITOD is equal distance to Kota Bahru and to Ca Mau, so all other things being equal, if the plane went below a certain altitude at a particular point in time, it would result in it going below the horizon for both radars at the same time.

    I am glad u remember the diagram Professor Stupples was trying to peddle in the Horizons program. In his remarks to the Chinese press on March 15th which i have quoted, he said to the effect that the Malaysians have one of the best air radar defenses in the world, that it was just completed and handed over last year and that the system would automatically have been tracking all aircraft in that region where MH370 disappeared. Yet he came on the Horizons programme to spin this tale about a radar blackout zone in the airspace between Malaysia and Vietnam, with a diagram in hand on which small circles were drawn, presumably representing the range and location of the various radars in question. It has been awhile since i saw the program but from memory those were the locations and range of the TRACON ie terminal approach primary radars located at the various airports.

    Was Professor Stupples, who is said to be an expert in radar, ignorant of the fact that in addition to the TRACON radars, there were also the en route long range radars with much greater range in both countries and that the data/returns from such radars would be piped down in real time to the ATCs?

    Both the Horizon and the Four Corners programs were created for a reason, to defend the authorities/Inmarsat’s theory that the plane had flown on for 7 hours to the Indian Ocean. Implicit in this theory is that (a) human intervention was involved, and (b) the plane would most probably never be found. How convenient for Boeing, Malaysia Airlines and the various aviation safety and regulating authorities.

    In time the public will lose interest especially if the ‘search’ drags on, which looks a certainty. As some people have inconsiderately pointed out, they have not even found the haystack, let alone begin the search for the needle within. And as long as the ‘search’ goes on, there would be no need to issue any investigation report, so why bother to keep up the pretense of doing any ‘investigation’. For all we know, the ‘mapping’ that is going on may turn out to be very useful- for future oil exploration for example.

    Uncle Sam would not normally want to see the Aussies blowing USD100 million on a senseless pursuit but what is USD100m compared to the tens of billions it would cost Boeing if the plane is found and the cause is ascertained to be from lightning, with Boeing having to recall their entire fleet to redo the lightning protection and in all likelihood having to scrap part of their fleet in particular the 50% composite Dreamliner.

    The ICAO, FAA, CAA, NTSB, AAIB and other aviation authorities would not find themselves with a gigantic monetary loss but they will have to do some explaining as to why nothing has been done to address the fact that airplanes and in particular those that use significant amounts of composite material, are not safe from certain types of lightning, which fact was brought to the attention of all in 1999 when a glider plane made from composite material disintegrated in mid air, with the AAIB presciently warning as follows in their investigation report:

    “…. Modern jet transport aircraft types are designed with increasing utilisation of such composite materials for structural and control surface elements. One example of such trend is the Boeing 777……

    …..Recommendation no 99-49. It is recommended that the CAA should request serious consideration, during its participation in the current international review of aircraft lighting certification standards, of the fact that energy levels from positive polarity discharges have been shown to greatly exceed those specified in Advisory Circular AC 20-53A, with the associated implications for the certificated lightning protection assurance of existing and future aircraft designs, particularly those which utilise significant amounts of composite material in their primary and control structures.”

  72. Alex Siew said,

    August 24, 2014 at 8:55 pm

    Bruce, from Duncan’s latest post, one can see that IGARI would be beyond or at the outermost range of both the Butterworth radar and the Surat Thani radar.

    The ‘western turn back’ theory is based on

    1. The claim by the Malaysians that a blip was spotted on the Butterworth radar around the area where MH370 went missing, indicating a possible ‘turnback’ ie reciprocal heading back to KL (no time was mentioned for when this blip was first spotted).

    2. The claim by the Thais (10 days after the event) that a blip was spotted on their Surat Thani radar going the opposite direction of MH370 heading towards KL ( blip first spotted at 1.28am).

    Thus in both instances, the claim is that a blip had appeared in the vicinity of where MH370 had disappeared from and that this blip was initially heading towards KL.

    Has anyone done any analysis on whether this blip heading towards KL could have been some other plane for example CES 539?

  73. Alex Siew said,

    August 25, 2014 at 2:07 am

    It is stated at page 4 of the Preliminary Report as follows:

    “A playback of a recording from military primary radar revealed that an aircraft with a possibility of MH370 had made an air-turn back onto a Westerly heading crossing Peninsular Malaysia”.

    This statement begs the following questions:

    1. Where was this purported turn back?

    2. When was this purported turn back?

    3. When was this aircraft first detected?

    4. Where did this aircraft end up going after the purported turn back?

    5. Why is it only a possibility that the aircraft was MH370?

    Are we to believe that air traffic control would be seeing, on a routine basis, aircraft making turn backs in the middle of the flight? It surely would be a rare occasion when an aircraft has to turn back. So how many aircraft turned back that night such that one cannot be sure, or one can only conclude that it is only a possibility, that the aircraft turning back was MH370? If it is only a possibility, it must mean the aircraft turning back could have been some other plane. Which leads to the question: What other plane was up there that night that also could have been the aircraft purportingly turning back?

    If it was another plane that had turned back, it would mean that this plane had an emergency and never reached its original destination.

    Was there any report of any other plane that night having an emergency or failing to reach its destination or having had to turn back? The answer is NO.

    So if no other plane had turned back, and there was an unidentified aircraft that indeed turned back, there could only be one conclusion: the unidentified aircraft that turned back must or most probably, have been MH370.

    If that is the case, then why say it is merely a possibility that the aircraft was MH370?

    Like so many other things in this saga, this statement in the Preliminary Report just cannot withstand scrutiny.

  74. Alex Siew said,

    August 25, 2014 at 2:55 am

    The tank is running on empty, my final contribution.

    It is great to see Scott Alexander, Don Thompson and others making the effort to get more data/information. My humble suggestion is that the list should be short and concise. The critical stuff to me are:

    1. The full Inmarsat data, from first entry to last, all fields.

    2. The recording of the Malaysian military radar (Butterworth) that purportedly showed an aircraft making a turnback.

    3. The recording of the Surat Thani (Thailand) radar purportedly showing an aircraft heading towards KL at around the time that MH370 went missing.

    4. The recording of the radar returns at Subang ATC from take off (12.41am) to the time the plane disappeared from the screen (1.30am) and for a period beyond, say the following 60 minutes

    5. The recording of the radar returns at Ho Chi Minh City from take off (12.41am) or when the plane first appeared on their screen to the time the plane disappeared from their screen, and for a period beyond, say the following 60 minutes.

    The radar recordings above will show whether in fact there was an aircraft that had turned back at the relevant time.

    The full Inmarsat data and in particular the information on the signal strength (Rx Dbm), noise (C/N0) and bit error rate (BER) will show whether the pings were transmitted on secondary ie battery power or on regular AC or DC power from the plane’s engines.

    If the radar recordings do not show any aircraft turning back, in other words, all blips can be accounted for upon a review of all the radars, and the Rx, C/No and BER show the pings having been transmitted on battery power, people can draw their own conclusions from there.

    Will the authorities release the above data/recordings? We do not know unless we try. It would make sense to use the same tactic as before, that is to get the families and media involved.

    The other items that may also be critical are:

    1. Confirmation from the authorities of whether there were any distress or other calls from MH370 whether picked up by the US 7th Fleet or otherwise, or reports of such calls.

    2. The recording of the radio conversation between MH88 and MH370 at around 1.30am, which conversation was confirmed by the authorities on March 9th in the 6th media statement published on the DCA/MAS website.

    3. Confirmation from the authorities of whether there was any pick up of any ELT signals from MH370 or reports of such pick up.

  75. Bruce Lamon said,

    August 26, 2014 at 11:27 am

    Alex, “Has anyone done any analysis on whether this blip heading towards KL could have been some other plane for example CES 539?”

    There was a discussion of the flightradar24 data on Duncan’s blog on 7/29 beginning about here: http://www.duncansteel.com/archives/899#comment-9086

    My observation after reviewing this data was that “if the Malaysian primary radar tracked a flight across the Malaysian peninsula, it was MH370, because there is no other commercial flight close to crossing the peninsula at that time.” http://www.duncansteel.com/archives/899#comment-9130

    I suspect the main reason MH370 was called a “possibility” was to avoid blame for the initial search expense. I don’t see how the Prime Minister could tell the families that MH370 certainly ended in the South Indian Ocean unless the Malaysian position was that MH370 certainly crossed the peninsula.

  76. Alex Siew said,

    August 27, 2014 at 2:04 am


    I totally agree that if Malaysia had tracked an aircraft turning back at around the area that MH370 had disappeared from and later crossing Peninsular Malaysia, all as drawn up in Figure 2 of the ATSB Report or the Preliminary Report, that aircraft had to be or most probably was, MH370.

    The question is did the Malaysians actually track an aircraft doing that?

    For the reasons given in my previous comments, I do not think so.

    The blip spotted on the Butterworth primary radar was most likely CES539, which was a flight from Shanghai heading to KL on airway L642 and which aircraft was only around 100 nm east from MH370 heading the opposite direction (ie to KL) at the relevant time. To the officer manning the Butterworth radar ( probably the officer who opined MH370 never left Malaysian airspace), MH370, which would only appear as a blip on that radar since it was a primary radar, had disappeared at the outermost range of that radar at around IGARI, and subsequently there was this blip appearing at the outermost range coming from the opposite direction heading to KL and thus the assumption MH370 had turned back to KL.

    U will note that when this story about the purported turn back first surfaced, the Malaysian air force chief Daud had said that this blip had turned back to KL and was later spotted AT 2.40AM at Pulau Perak.

    Some people have postulated that what the Malaysians had tracked, was CES539 flying to KL and from KL another flight, probably KLM836 which departed from Kl around the time CES arrived there and which then flew over Pulau Perak at around 2.40am. To someone manning a primary radar where all the planes appeared merely as blips, it would appear as though the blip had traveled to Kl and from there to Pulau Perak and beyond.

    But to the ATC at Subang, CES539 would have been tracked as early as when the plane first flew past the south east coast of Vietnam from China (via the Gong Kedak radar) AND CES539 would be at the same time transmitting its SSR signal so to the air traffic controllers at Subang (and at Ho Chi Minh City), this was just CES539 on its way from China to KL on its designated flight path L642.

    Surely the Malaysians at some point would have done some cross checking and compared the radar recording of Subang ATC with the radar recording of the Butterworth radar and come to the realisation that the blip seen on the Butterworth radar was CES539 or some other plane which was not MH370?

    They must have. And that is why this blip was described in the Preliminary Report as only ‘possibly’ MH370, just in case one day the radar recordings have to be revealed and people will get to see the blip was not MH370 but CES539 or some other plane.

    You may ask: if the Malaysians came to realise later the blip was not MH370, why did they not not come forward and say so?

    Surely it must be obvious to people by now (other than some of the mathematical geniuses on Duncan’s blog), there is a cover up going on, which cover up must have had the sanction of the governments involved including the United States, the UK, Australia and Malaysia?

    Has the world seen anything like the Preliminary Report in this case and will the world ever see another such preliminary report?

    In normal circumstances, there would have been an outcry, but there has not been a squeak from ICAO or any of the aviation authorities of member countries.

    And what about the investigation team that was supposedly assembled, headed by the ex head of the Malaysian DCA? Has anyone heard anything from this investigation team all these months?

    Why are the governments and aviation authorities behaving this way?

    There must be something bigger at stake than potential losses to Boeing or Malaysia Airlines from future lawsuits. These companies would be insured and in any event, Boeing at least, can easily absorb any losses from a single plane accident.

    Could it be MH370 has exposed something that the governments and aviation authorities would rather the flying public not know?

    What could this something be, to compel a cover up reaching the highest levels of these governments and the various aviation authorities?

    Could it be MH370 has exposed a safety issue with commercial aircraft?

    Scientists, including some engineers within Boeing, have for many years been warning against the trend of using composite materials in aircraft, due to the risks from lightning strikes. Those risks were laid bare for the aviation world to see in the 1999 glider plane incident. The AAIB in its investigation report of that incident went on record to say to the effect that commercial aircraft, both existing and those in the design pipeline, and in particular those that use significant amounts of composite materials, are not safe as against positive lightning. The AAIB expressly referred to the Boeing 777 in their investigation report.

    But money ruled and still rules. Instead of heeding those warnings, Boeing went even further in the use of composite materials (to save cost and maximise fuel efficiency through weight reduction) with the result that the 787 Dreamliner is 50% composite compared to 12% for the 777. Airbus, its main competitor, also followed the same route.

    So what happens if MH370 is found and the cause of the electrical failure and resulting crash is ascertained to be a lightning strike of high intensity?

    Can all those planes out there with significant amounts of composite materials be reworked or reconfigured so as to make them safe against such lightning strikes? Even if that is possible, what would be the costs for Boeing and Airbus? And the disruption and loss of business for the airline companies while things get sorted out.

    Would it, all things considered, be ‘better’ if MH370 is never found, which would mean the cause of the crash will never be known. Better for Boeing, Airbus, definitely yes, with the tens of billions at stake. Better probably for the airline companies since it would mean business as usual. But better for the flying public?

    Maybe those in the comfort of their home will argue the odds of a plane getting struck by positive lightning are low and therefore one can live with it. But I am sure the same people when they are on a plane and lightning happens to strike the plane, will quickly, if not instantaneously, have a change of mind.

  77. Bruce Lamon said,

    August 27, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    Alex, I agree with some of what you say. On Duncan’s blog I said, “Human malfeasance theories deflect blame from the airline, the aircraft manufacturer and the component manufacturers, because, after all, no one can stop all the crazy and evil people in the world. If this plane is not found for years, it’s unlikely that anyone will be able in the meantime to persuasively lay blame on such things as improperly stowed or wrapped batteries in the cargo hold, or an electrical cockpit fire, or even my favorite, an ELT lithium battery fire. I suspect the corporate parties are relatively knowledgeable and regard human malfeasance as a long shot, which means that finding out what actually happened to MH370 might not be in their best interests.”

    On the other hand, as you suggest, they are big boys insured by deep pockets who are experts at managing this type of risk.

    The overall lightning protection scheme seems to be effective; according to this article, the danger lightning poses to large commercial aircraft and in particular to 787′s is negligible. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/travel/travelnews/travel-truths/10847640/What-happens-when-lightning-hits-an-aeroplane.html Apparently, there have been zero (or maybe 1) fatal accidents caused by lightning striking a commercial airliner since 1963, even though each one typically gets hit by lightning once or twice a year. (At least according to the linked article–from a quick search I did not see a more authoritative account.)

    I don’t think Boeing, et al. are looking at billions of dollars of exposure. I think there is already an FAA initiative to repair some seals that could affect the integrity of the lightning protection system and the FAA has been and is now working on the oxygen-fed cockpit fire and ELT battery fire problems.

    Plus the manufacturers want to improve their products and see a chance for that if they find out what happened.

    So even though Boeing does not appear to be helping with the search, I don’t think it is very much afraid of MH370 being found.

    The only reasonable high-level coverup possibility I see is that MH370 was remotely controlled or hacked in some fashion–e.g. via the anti-hijacking technology Boeing developed for ATCs to take control of the aircraft. If so, it might be appropriate, to protect the public, for everyone knowledgeable to cover up what happened pending the implementation of corrections.

  78. Alex Siew said,

    August 27, 2014 at 8:18 pm


    The vast majority of lightning strikes are of the negative type which typically would not exceed 40,000 Amperes, well below the 200,000 Amperes threshold provided under AC20-53A.

    The AAIB in their investigation report of the 1999 glider plane incident gave some numbers for positive lightning:

    “… Positive flashes to ground had been thought, in the recent past. to occur generally less frequently than negative flashes (approximately 10% of all strikes), but recent research has indicated that in certain geographic locations and in higher latitudes the proportion may be very much higher…”.

    Not all positive strikes will exceed 200,000 Amperes. So we are looking at the odds of a plane getting struck by lightning in the first place, then the odds of the lightning being of the positive variety and then the odds of the positive lightning exceeding 200,000 Amperes.

    The lightning that struck the glider was immensely powerful. From the Investigation Report:

    “…The Action Integral energy level of this strike was assessed…..to have been at least some 8 or 9 fold higher than the Action Integral level specified in AC 20-53A which lightning certificated aircraft are currently required to tolerate with minimal damage….”.

    Powerful enough for the AAIB to warn about the “…associated implications for the certificated lightning protection assurance of existing and future aircraft designs, particularly those which utilise significant amounts of composite material in their primary and control structures…”, after having earlier in the report singled out the B777 as an example of such usage of composite material.

    As regards the B787, this from an article (admittedly from a law firm) cited on Wikipedia:

    “….Against CFRP, lightning will penetrate through the skin and play havoc with vital mechanical, electronic and fuel systems. Boeing is doing a number of things to minimize this vulnerability on the B787. In addition to inerting the fuel tanks, it is embedding a fine metal mesh in the composite. The purpose is to disperse the lightning strike around the airframe to prevent concentrated damage.

    Gap are a problem. A slight gap between a wing-skin fastener and the hole it goes into could be a source of sparking as current jumps the gap. Boeing will install each fastener precisely and seal it on the inside to ensure a snug, spark-free fit. There are 40,000 fasteners on the B787 and they must be perfect for the life of the airplane to assure protection against lightning.

    Any gap inside the wings, where the wing skin meets structural spars, could cause a spraying out of electrons in a lightning strike. This phenomenon is called ‘edge glow’. Boeing will seal all edges with a nonconducting goop…”.

    I am sure if I ever find myself on a B787, the 40,000 fasteners will come to mind.

    In the days to come, I will tackle the ‘mathematical evidence’ showing the pings were transmitted after the plane had already crashed.

  79. Alex Siew said,

    August 30, 2014 at 6:16 pm


    There are some posts on PPRUNE about military radar providing a real time datalink to ATC. See for example the post by ‘Andrasz’ post#879 currently at page 44.

    The rationale for such sharing of data is aptly summarized in the following extract (which,from memory, is from a book called the Fundamentals of Air Traffic Control):

    “…The US Air Force has historically operated numerous radar installations in defense of North America. In an attempt to reduce expenditures, increase operational efficiency and reduce duplication of facilities, the Air Force and the FAA agreed to jointly operate a number of long range radar systems, known as joint surveillance systems (JSS). Joint surveillance systems use the same transmitter, antenna and receiver for the Air Force and the FAA, but they are also equipped with an electronic splitter that sends duplicate radar information to military and air traffic control facilities for processing. The FAA uses the information for air traffic control; the Air Force concentrates on air defense. Maintenance and operation costs are shared jointly by the FAA and the Department of Defense…”

  80. Alex Siew said,

    August 30, 2014 at 7:09 pm


    Regarding the prevailing weather conditions when MH370 disappeared over the South China Sea, Tim Vasquez of Weather Graphics has collected some really useful information and pictures/graphics.

    U will note from the pictures/graphics, MH370 was flying through some light clouds at IGARI.

    Tim has also provided some graphics showing the sea current at that time but I note these are described as ‘modeled’ and expressly stated to be ‘not observed’.

    I have not been able to find any pictures/graphics showing the actual sea current direction and speed for the time MH370 disappeared. The closest is the information from OSCAR posted in an article in New Republic showing actual current direction and speed extracted from OSCAR for March 12th.

    According to the authors of that article (published on March 18th):”…. if debris from Flight Mh370 was found near its last known radar location, we would expect it to be moving roughly north at 0.5 metres per second- around 25 miles per day- as of March 12th….”.

    Mike Mckay gave some numbers for the sea current prevailing at his location that night:… “surface sea current at our location [8.22N 108.42E] is 2.0 to 2.3 knots in a direction of 225*-230* …”.

    It would appear the current was quite a bit stronger on March 8th compared to 4 days later. 2 to 2.3 knots works out to around over 50 nm per day.

    If the sea current for March8th to 10th was in the direction as shown in the OSCAR graphic as of March 12th but at the higher speed given by McKay, and the plane had crashed around 20 to 30 nm south or south east from the tip of southern Vietnam, the debris would have floated to around the location where debris and a streak of what appears to be jet fuel were observed from the air by a Cathay Pacific crew at around 5.30 pm local time March 10th, off Vung Tau.

    This debris and fuel streak were never tracked down by the Vietnamese searching team despite the Cathay Pacific crew having given the coordinates for the site.

    I have set out in a previous comment and as reported in Aviation Herald, the Vietnamese asked commercial vessels in the area to check it out, the first, a cargo ship reported no debris, a second commercial vessel was then asked and this reported some debris and only then, some time later (maybe a day later?), the Vietnamese went to take a look in a coast guard vessel. The crew of this vessel reported no sighting of any debris but noted the strong waves at the site and that the debris had probably floated away. At the speed of the current (if still around 2 plus knots) the debris would definitely have floated away, as far as 50nm in 24 hours.

    I am not saying the debris that was sighted and recorded/photographed from the air with precise coordinates given, was definitely from MH370. But the way this sighting was followed up, if one can call it that, shows the brief search at the South China Sea was anything but professional or competent. If these people cannot even track down debris when they were given the exact coordinates (because they were too slow to react and too dumb to realise the debris would have floated elsewhere given the time it took for them to reach the site), then how can we expect these people to locate any debris at all.

    Who were more incompetent? Those that asked commercial vessels, one after another to check out reports of debris and then decided to turn up a day later expecting the debris to be still there after seeing the strong waves at that area or those that decided to center the search at IGARI and limit the search area initially to a radius of 20 nm off IGARI when it was known to all that the plane was at 35000 ft at IGARI.

  81. Alex Siew said,

    August 30, 2014 at 7:53 pm

    For those who think it is not possible for the rear fuselage of MH370 to have stayed afloat after a ditching at the South China Sea, they can take a look at what happened to Ethiopian Airlines Flight 961.

    This flight was hijacked and the pilots ultimately had to ditch in the Indian Ocean but close to a beach (around 500 yards from the beach). According to Wikipedia, the speed at the time of ditching was around 170 knots and the pilots had tried to ditch the plane in a direction parallel to the waves.

    This from an article from Flight International (December 1996) cited by Wikipedia:

    “…Conditions for ditching were fair but the 767 hit with about 10* left bank, causing the aircraft to yew left and break up. All but the rear fuselage section inverted and sank quickly….”

    The ditching was caught on camera. There is one clip around 8 minutes plus in length on youtube. The plane breaking up with the rear fuselage somehow managing to stay afloat and upright despite the break up, can be observed at 4:57 of that clip.

    According to the programme recorded in that clip, the left engine had in fact hit a reef at the time of ditching which contributed to the break up. Later parts of the clip show many parts of the plane having washed or drifted ashore.

  82. Alex Siew said,

    September 1, 2014 at 7:22 am


    How can a crash at the South China Sea soon after 1.43am be reconciled with the pings, the last of which was transmitted more than 6 hours later at 8.19am?

    1. To answer this question we must first know what sort of Satcom system was on board MH370. I have in previous comments described this system in detail. In brief, MH370 had a dual SDU dual antenna Satcom system. The master SDU was linked to the high gain antenna via the High Power Amplifier and the Beam Steering Units while the slave SDU was linked directly to the low gain antenna. The HGA was a dual side mounted Ball Aerospace antenna while the omni LGA was located on top of the rear fuselage. The SDUs were located just below this part of the rear fuselage, above the overhead luggage compartment. This dual SDU dual antenna system is provided under ARINC 741 the industry standard for Satcom design. Under this system, the slave SDU/LGA is installed as a backup, to come on only when the primary SDU/HGA antenna subsystem fails.

    2. The SDUs on MH370 were made by Honeywell/Racal. I do not know the exact model but if i have to guess i think it was the MCS 4000/7000 series. These SDUs all have an internal battery. Other potential sources of power (in addition to the plane’s regular AC/DC power) include the hot battery bus and possibly even a stand alone separate battery back up (many avionics have battery backup).

    3. Could it be that after the plane ditched into the South China Sea, the plane broke up but the rear fuselage managed to stay afloat, just like in the case of Ethiopian Flight 761, and the pings were transmitted by the Satcom backup system ie by the slave SDU operating on battery power through the LGA on top of the rear fuselage? There is plenty of evidence to indicate that was indeed what happened.

    4. First and foremost, the signal strength of the pings was abnormally weak, so weak that the pings did not even show up in the data logs in the first place. The NYT article once again:

    “…..Chris Mclaughlin…..said technicians pulled the logs of all transmissions from the plane within four hours of its disappearance. Then after a day without sign of the plane, they began scouring the company’s databases for any trace of Flight MH370. ‘We decided to go have another look at our network to see if there was any data that we had missed,’ McLaughlin said. It turned out there was. Inmarsat technicians identified what appeared to be a series of fleeting ‘pings’ between Flight MH370, a satellite over the Indian Ocean and a ground station in Perth, Australia…”.

    5. The pings were transmitted over a period of nearly 6 hours, from 2.25am to 8.19am. There can be no explanation for why all the pings were so weak in signal strength other than that they were all not transmitted on the plane’s regular AC/DC power but transmitted on some sort of secondary power source ie on battery power. What it boils down to is- the pings were transmitted when the engines were no longer running.

    6. However, the BFOs and the BTOs for the pings were changing in value over time. Surely that cannot be so if the plane had already crashed ie stationary already?

    7. Not necessarily. The satellite was not a geostationary satellite, so even if the plane had crashed, the BTOs and BFOs would be changing over time as long as the satellite was moving

    8. Do the BTOs and BFOs of the pings in actual fact merely reflect the movement of the satellite against a crashed/stationary plane?

    9. How can that be? Don’t we have it from the Independent Group in their statement that they concurred with the ATSB/Inmarsat that ‘the BTO data provides unambiguous and accurate arcs of position?”

    10. With all due respect, the BTO and the BFO data were all over the place, showing that the SDU was no longer operating in its normal state. If we look at the first 3 signals, in less than 2 minutes from 2.25 to 2.27am, the BTO had gone from 17120 to 51700 to 12560. In that time the BFO had gone from 142 to 273 to 176.

    11. These values are all out of whack. The plane could not have been traveling those distances and changing directions so drastically in those 2 minutes. It is obvious something was not quite right with the SDU by such time.

    I will set out, one at a time, mathematical observations that go to show the BFOs and BTOs merely reflect the movement of the satellite.

    We have it from the great man himself that the satellite was first moving north at decreasing speeds reaching its northern apex at 1936 UTC or 3.36am before descending southwards at increasing speeds.

    To get the ball rolling, the first mathematical observation by no other than Richard, question 13 of his 15 questions posed on Duncan’s blog on August 25th at 15:27am:

    Question: ” Why does the BFO data at 18:27:05 [2.27 am]show MH370 tracking almost due North on a bearing of 359.977 degree true?”

    Answer: The BFO data merely reflect the movement of the satellite at such time, which was northwards or 360 degree.

    To be continued……….

  83. Alex Siew said,

    September 2, 2014 at 1:33 am

    Observation No 2: The best fit for the BFO and BTO data for the southern track from 1941 UTC onwards is on a heading of 180 degrees.

    The satellite happened to be traveling on such heading from 1936 UTC onwards ie descending southwards.

  84. Alex Siew said,

    September 2, 2014 at 1:48 am

    Observation No3: The ‘point of closest approach to the satellite’ happened at around the 1941 UTC ping- see for eg Richard on August 24th at 14:40 on Duncan’s blog.

    The satellite turned southwards at 1936 UTC.

  85. Alex Siew said,

    September 2, 2014 at 1:55 am

    Observation No 4: As per Gysbreght on Duncan’s blog on August 25th at 15:27- looking at groundspeed vector as the vector sum of 2 components, Vx parallel to the equator and Vy parallel to the meridian:

    (a) BFO is almost insensitive to Vx

    (b) BFO has an approximately linear relationship to Vy

    (c) sensitivity of BFO to Vy is close to zero when sub satellite point is on the equator and is greatest when the sub satellite point is at the northern or southern extremes of its daily motion.

  86. Alex Siew said,

    September 2, 2014 at 2:01 am

    Observation No 5: BFO (for the pings only, not the transmissions at 1707 UTC and prior) = satellite velocity in knots plus fixed offset of approximately 90.

  87. Alex Siew said,

    September 2, 2014 at 2:09 am

    Observation No 6: 1 km in movement of the satellite on the Z axis for the later pings (ie those not affected by the eclipse) = 8 plus microseconds in BTO. Also the distance traveled by the satellite is half of the distance between the ping radius, for such pings.

  88. Alex Siew said,

    September 2, 2014 at 2:15 am

    Observation no 7: If satellite velocity is assumed to be constant, the BFO and BTO data is consistent with a flight path back to KL. See comments by Byan and others.

  89. Alex Siew said,

    September 2, 2014 at 2:21 am

    Observation no 8: The BFO for the later pings, reverse engineered, translated into aircraft velocities way above the maximum speed of a B777. See Gysbreght recently, and VictorI and airlandseaman back in April.

  90. Alex Siew said,

    September 3, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    Observation No 9: The respective graphs for the BFO, BTO, the satellite velocity and the satellite movement in the Z axis, in respect of the pings, all have the same shape, like a ‘tick’, with all 4 graphs showing a dip or bottom for the 1941 UTC ping, which was around the time the satellite was turning from a northwards to a southwards direction ( 1936 UTC ).

  91. Alex Siew said,

    September 3, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    Observation No 10: The ratio of BTO to BFO for the pings at 18:27, 21.41, 22.41 and 00.11 UTC all works out to around 71. These are the pings which were not affected by the eclipse.

  92. Ekyap said,

    November 26, 2014 at 8:42 pm


    I would like to clarify certain points for you. We are by this point pretty clear about the difference between Primary and Secondary radar. We are left in the dark as to the extent of civilian ATC primary and secondary radar coverage on the track for MH 370.

    The mechanics of military air defence radar and physics of its coverage are pretty straightforward.

    a. We are not talking about a small fighter jet at low level but rather a fat consistent radar target at height,. The Malaysian IADS AD radars are all situated on high hills for better coverage and to look down and search for low flying aircraft. The sites in Penang , Pahang and Gong Kedak are pretty clear on that. Thus seeing a high flying large target at its max instrumented range would not be technically difficult without any issues of clutter and or a radar horizon.

    b. Normal instrumented range for a 3D Phased array radar would be between 420km to 470km depending on type and manufacturer, However max range as listed would be within normal working capability for a large target at height so 440km 450km no issue.

    c. The Military AD radar reads, interrogates and presents the civilian transponder codes to the operators. It has to by virtue of its job. It has to identify and sort every blip. Can you imagine a Military AD radar which has nothing but a morass of unidentified tracks on screen because it does not read the civilian transponders ?

    d. The time of the flight was well LOW peak for ATC and Mil radar, It was not as busy track wise on both military and civilian screens so all in all a low work load on a quiet nite.

    e. The question as you put it is WHAT did Gong Kedak see ? The absence of any information from Gong Kedak is surprising and all information thus far has come out of the track detected by RMAF butterworth.

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