MH370: The Conspiracies


Let’s run through the latest updates on MH370 for the past 1 week. It does not look great but then again, perhaps no news at all could be good news . There’s still hope.

Searchformissingflightgetshelpfromorbit_5324f761442bd_w1500

(Summing up the status on MH370 as at today – click on the image to enlarge it. Infographic source: http://visual.ly/still-flying-after-seven-hours)

When we first heard about the missing plane, we were anxious, very worried and feared for the worse. We were practically glued to the TV for days waiting for any positive news. One week down the line, we were still hopeful despite the search & rescue team not finding any clues or wreck of the plane. But the reality is that the longer the plane could not be found, any chances of finding survivors was getting slimmer too. We have been hearing contradictory statements and very few positive updates. The earlier rumored turn about have now been confirmed and the search for the plane have moved from the South China Sea to now the west side of Malaysia and the vast Indian Ocean.

And now, it is entering into the 2nd week, things seems to be going from bad to worse:-

Authorities have said that someone on board deliberately disabled the plane’s Aircraft and Communications Addressing and Reporting System, or ACARS, at 1:07 a.m. March 8, with the transponder — which identifies it to commercial radar systems — getting shut down about 14 minutes later.

(Source)

The Government now had confirmed that the plane had indeed turned (earlier it was suspected but was not confirmed) around and may have headed towards one of the 2 possible air corridors. Added to this is the notion that someone had deliberately switched off the transponder. Another security hole at KLIA? The Government is keeping their silence on the notion of the plane may be been hijacked but have not ruled out any possibilities. If it was deliberately turnoff and the plane had not crashed, all signs seems to point to a hijack.

The search & rescue now focuses on the 2 possible air corridors whilst a parallel investigation is on-going on the crew and passengers (they should also investigate the Immigration officers who failed to detect 2 Iranian imposters). And assuming that the plane did not fly off to another country using one of the two air corridors, the Indian Ocean is one huge place to search (it’s possible that we would never find the wreck if it had crashed into the sea). Almost immediately India and Pakistan had come on air, denying that the plane pass through its airspace:-

Indian military authorities have dismissed the possibility that the Malaysia Airlines (MAS) flight MH370, which mysteriously disappeared eight days ago en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, could have flown over India on its way to Kazakhstan-Turkmenistan in Central Asia, the Times of India reported.

“If the jetliner had tried to cross the Indian mainland, our primary radars (which bounce radio signals off targets) would have picked it up despite its transponders being switched off (secondary radars beam signals that request information from a plane’s transponders),” said a top Indian Air Force (IAF) officer. “The five Airports Authority of India radars at Delhi, Kolkata, Ahmedabad, Chennai and Mumbai are integrated with IAF’s air defence network. The possibility is far-fetched,” said an officer.

(Source)

One cannot underestimate the overwhelming web of radars and detection system that India and Pakistan had deployed in, what one had said, one of the potential flashpoint in the world. But if it has indeed had flew undetected, no one is coming forward admitting the shortcoming of their radars. Many too dismissed that it is not possible for the plane to use the northern corridor for a simple fact – there were too many radar installation & tracking system in many countries that could detect the missing plane. It is not easy for a Boeing 777 to simply slip by undetected by so many countries. So was the case until I read this:-

The major roadblock to this theory has been the insistence from India and Pakistan that their radar network showed no such unidentified aircraft entering or traversing their airspace. It would seem highly unlikely given such information that a Boeing 777 could indeed slip through undetected.

It is my belief that MH370 likely flew in the shadow of SIA68 through India and Afghanistan airspace. As MH370 was flying “dark” without transponder / ADS-B output, SIA68 would have had no knowledge that MH370 was anywhere around and as it entered Indian airspace, it would have shown up as one single blip on the radar with only the transponder information of SIA68 lighting up ATC and military radar screens.

(Source)

Well, that is one theory that may explained that MH370 may have slip into the northern corridor undetected by the Indians and Pakistanis. That it tail-gated another Boeing 777 and presented itself invisible to the web of radars. Another theory on how it could have gone missing is this – by an AWACS jamming the detection:-

What could make a plane disappear from civilian radar while at 36,000 feet yet still be visible on military radar? ONE THING, and it looks like a UFO (as some have speculated) only it’s attached to a Boeing jet – the antenna on a U.S. Air Force AWACS plane. The fact that this missing jet vanished from civilian radar yet remained visible on more robust military radars proves well enough for me that this indeed was an AWACS hijacking, just like we saw on 9/11 where AWACS planes were seen on video observing if not controlling the crashes into the twin towers.

Once the plane flew far enough West, AWACS was obviously enough to jam both civilian and military radars, probably because they entered a zone where the angle of both incoming signals allowed for their simultaneous cancellation. That is where the plane finally “vanished” forever, an hour after the “official” vanishing act.

(Source)

And now, the issue of fire on board have resurfaced:-

For me, the loss of transponders and communications makes perfect sense in a fire. And there most likely was an electrical fire. In the case of a fire, the first response is to pull the main busses and restore circuits one by one until you have isolated the bad one. If they pulled the busses, the plane would go silent.

It probably was a serious event and the flight crew was occupied with controlling the plane and trying to fight the fire. Aviate, navigate, and lastly, communicate is the mantra in such situations. There is no point speculating further until more evidence surfaces, but in the meantime it serves no purpose to malign pilots who well may have been in a struggle to save this aircraft from a fire or other serious mechanical issue.

Capt. Zaharie Ahmad Shah was a hero struggling with an impossible situation trying to get that plane to Langkawi. There is no doubt in my mind. That’s the reason for the turn and direct route. A hijacking would not have made that deliberate left turn with a direct heading for Langkawi. It probably would have weaved around a bit until the hijackers decided where they were taking it.

(Source)

These are just some of the speculations circulating on the internet (including this) on what might have happened to the plane (read here for more theories). We still have a missing plane to search for and so far, there has not been any concrete leads.

missing-plane-online

(The possible 2 routes of the missing plane but one have admit that it is one big area to search. We only have less than 2 weeks before the black box batteries runs out. Image source: http://www.telegraph.co.uk)

There is a growing talk on the internet that there has been indeed an hijack and the Malaysian Government knows what had really happened to MH370 but they are buying time to negotiate for the safe return of the passengers from some secret location. This is a bit far fetched, if you ask me. Even if it was kept in secret by the Malaysian Government, things would have leaked and the foreign press would have reported by now. So, I don’t think there is any negotiations going on in the back ground.

Someone also raised the connection between the pilot and his support for Anwar and that he may have committed suicide when he learned that the court had found Anwar guilty. This was absolutely a nonsense and at the most, a very sickening hit below the belt attempt at Anwar (a very typical line of thought by some politicians – if you don’t support us, then you must be the enemy).

Whilst the search continues, the incident of MH370 reveal the glaring shortcomings with the Malaysian Government dealing with a missing plane. I have covered the point on crisis management last week and the foreign press already had a field day on this (from day one). It also questioned on the capability of RMAF in detecting plane that had deviated from its flight path and the failure to scramble the jets to intercept the plane. If that had been done, we would have known whether MH370 indeed turned about to the west much earlier:-

This aspect of the flight raises other questions. Even without its transponder the plane was clearly seen, though not identified, by Malaysian military radar. Yet nothing was done about it. No aircraft was scrambled to see what this mystery object was. In its long hours of flight to the west of Malaysia, was it seen by other military radar, such as India’s, or if it flew north-west, by Thailand or even China. It is difficult to believe any of these countries, seeing an unidentified aircraft approaching or entering their airspace, would not have done something to find out what it was.

(Source)

Whilst this may be disputed by those are familiar with the workings of the military SOP and use of military radar, one must remember that anything that touches on military radar and strategy, also touches on national security and I don’t think any military commanders out there would approve a free for all information to be circulated openly in the media. Who knows what really took place. Perhaps it was known that the unidentified plane was indeed MH370 but they needed time and clearance to inform others. Perhaps RMAF did sent interceptors to check on the plane but they could not identify the plane as MH370. We will never know. One would just hope that the Government will think hard again on the weaknesses of the present air surveillance over Malaysia and take immediate actions to address the shortcomings.

There is only have less than 2 weeks before the black box battery runs out. Time indeed running out for the crew and the passengers. Meantime, the comedy in Malaysia continues. At time when the whole of Malaysia is united in praying for the return of the crew and the passengers and being hopeful on the missing MH370, some politicians on the other hand have proven time again that they are still stuck to their 3rd world way of thinking – that Government knows the best, can be highly secretive and can dismiss any questions & oppositions at their whims & fancy:-

Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh today claimed that Acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein has bypassed Pakatan Rakyat MPs in his invitation for parliamentarians to attend briefing on the missing MH370 tomorrow. “What he is doing clearly goes against the Parliament convention. It is parliamentary briefing, yet were are not invited. “This is very unbecoming of a minister who is also an Umno vice president,” she said when debating the motion of thanks on royal address in Parliament today,

(Source)

The Acting Transport Minister’s response to this was rather dumb that he did not invite the Opposition MPs because they never ask for it. It is no wonder that Business Week in the beginning of the crisis mentioned that the Malaysian Government is “handling a huge global issue as if it was domestic politics”. Some things will never change, don’t they?

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MH370: Lesson in Crisis Management


Frankly speaking, the last thing we need now is a missing plane…

flight-mh370

(I had to pinch myself when I first heard about the missing plane. I flew MAS on a regular basis and I prefer flying on a Boeing 777 than Airbus. Having a missing plane was something that all Malaysian did not expect to hear on a Saturday morning. The disappearance remains a mystery and a multi country search to date have revealed nothing to date. Image source: http://engtechmag.wordpress.com)

There was another trip scheduled up North last weekend for some religious function. However we did not go alone this time around. We hooked up with my brother in law and his family at our usual stop at the R&R. It was still early in the morning on Saturday and we had a good breakfast to kick-start the day. We then drove in a convoy with my usual “Speedy Gonzales” brother in law in tow and keeping within my speed limits (after all, driving within the speed limit on the highway is more relaxing, safe and fuel efficient than being a speed demon on the highway).

We reached our destination rather early in the morning and my brother in law then overtook me at the toll plaza but then when we reached the house, he was no where to be seen. I called him on his phone but the line was engaged. After a while, I saw him driving up to the car porch, visibly shaken and very upset. He then told me about the MH370 that had gone missing and he knew the crew rather well (you see, he works with MAS). We then spent the whole day glued to the TV seeking the latest news for the missing MH370 (with me gladly forgoing sleeping in the hotel for any positive news on the missing MH370) and him busy with sms-es, whatapps and calls with his colleagues and friends, all for the latest news on the missing plane.

And that is the time, we got a rude wake up call on Malaysian style of crisis management. Whilst foreign news channels already putting up the missing plane as breaking news and providing more insights (CCCTV even had assembled some experts panelist in the newsroom), the local channels – TV1, TV2 and TV3 are still in the lala land and showing programs that has nothing to do with missing plane (one even had cartoon on the air). Thankfully this boo-boo did not last long (perhaps thanks to the criticisms in social medias on how the local news were sleeping on the biggest news of the year) and now we have Astro Awani providing all round news coverage on MH370.

Then as more reports – both official, unofficial and of course, an avalanche of speculations poured in widening the mystery over the missing plane, the level of crisis management by the Malaysians authorities becomes more apparent. It did not go unnoticed in the foreign media. One even mentioned:-

“They’re handling a huge global issue as if it was domestic politics,”

(Source)

But you cannot blame Malaysia for this. Well, think about it – with relatively very few natural disasters (except for the annual flash floods where crisis management is nothing to shout about – just see what happened during the flooding in Kuantan) and man made disasters (like the Highway Tower tragedy), Malaysia actually have a very few reasons to beef up its crisis management structure and readiness.

Even with this incident of a missing plane – it is still feels like one is in a bad dream. My brother in law said the same thing when he first heard the news. There was no reason to believe that a MAS plane could go missing. There were no initial terrorist threats, the aircraft maintenance level is high and the flight crew is very competent. So the initial fumble up by the Malaysian authorities in dealing with this crisis is highly understandable and slowly but surely, once reality had kicked in, you can see a proper coordination and updates coming through on the incident. In my opinion, the current Department of Civil Aviation director-general Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman is doing a fine job handling the crisis despite unwillingly being thrown into the unknown. But that does not mean, there is no room for improvement and the missing MH370 shows we still have a long way to go.

Datuk Azharuddin

(The DCA chief, Datuk Azharuddin at the center of the crisis and he is backed up by the key people from MAS, the Air Force and the APMM. Image source: The Malaysian Insider)

Don’t get me wrong. The basic crisis management structure is there but by the time they get into the action of a proper crisis management, many days would have lapsed. This often would be compounded by having too many people wanting to take the lead and make decisions and statements which sometimes contradict each other and causes things to be more confusing. The lack of coordination between the various departments and the lack of information sharing is simply sad. Same happened during the Lahad Datu crisis and the same is happening in the current handling of the MH370 disappearance:-

The Malaysian authorities have come under fire following conflicting accounts on the last known position of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 before it went missing. The New York Times said the authorities had repeatedly said they were doing their best but Putrajaya and the airline had issued imprecise, incomplete and sometimes inaccurate information, with civilian officials contradicting military leaders.

The New York Times report said Rodzali’s statement stunned aviation experts as well as officials in China, who had been told again and again that the authorities had lost contact with the plane more than an hour earlier, when it was on course over the Gulf of Thailand, east of the peninsula. The latest information also caused an uproar on Chinese social media sites. “Malaysia, how could you hide something this big until now?” said one posting on Sina.com Weibo, a service similar to Twitter.

David Learmount, operations and safety editor at Flightglobal, a news and data service for the aviation sector, said the Malaysian government seemed evasive and confused, and he questioned why, if the remarks attributed to Rodzali were true, the government took so long to reveal evidence about a westwards flight path.

(Source)

Take the instance of the flight path of MH370. The Air Force is now coming forward (later denying it but not completely) and saying that the plane may have crossed over the Peninsula to the Straits of Malacca. Before that, it was the case of the 2 impostors (at one point, it was 4 people) and another is the actual people who did not check in. This has not been really settled with both MAS and the police seems to be making conflicting statements.

On the change of flight path, if it is true, is not only unfair to the various countries especially Vietnam who have pitched in their valuable time and resources looking out for any evidence of the plane. It is also unfair to the family and friends of the missing passengers who have kept in the dark on what had happened to their loved ones. It is also shows the state of chaos and confusion that the authorities are in even within themselves. And that is very embarrassing. On the other hand, the shortcomings and loopholes in the national security is just too glaring.

The Air Force said that they did not intercept the plane because it was not classified as hostile (I read somewhere that it is because the plane was flying away from Malaysia but once again, this information is not made known for all). Damn, didn’t these people learned anything from the 9-11 when commercial planes were used in the act of terrorism. Didn’t a commercial plane deviating from its original flight plane without a proper authorisation raised a red flag to those manning the radar station?

What about the 2 Iranians who managed to slip out using stolen passports? It was reported that these Iranians came in to Malaysia using Iranian passport but then exited using stolen foreign passports. Don’t the immigration department kept the entry records to compare? No wonder KLIA have been a haven for drug dealers and carriers and criminals from Iran, Nigeria, Latin America and other red-flagged countries. Someone had kept both their eyes closed for a long time now and let these parasites to slip in and out on a regular basis. Will the incident MH370 disappearance be the catalyst for a real change on how we can tighten the vetting of foreigners coming to country?

Anyway no point to talk about the past at the moment. We still have a plane missing and that should be the main focus for now.

I recall Datuk Azharuddin in one of the press conference as saying that they wish not indulge in speculations but rather deploy a more scientific method to identify and search for the missing plane. I liked the way he stressed the point and kept his confidence up. Of course having contradictory statements coming from his team does not help in stressing the scientific method to find the plane. This lack of information sharing and contradictory statements to the media should stop immediately. All statements should be made by only one person and that person is not the IGP, the military key officers, the Transport Minister and the various politicians who try to make their 2 cents (and their share of the limelight) worth at the time of the crisis. And that person should be Datuk Azharuddin.

And speaking of deploying scientific methods to find the missing plane, the last thing we need now is these clowns (surprisingly endorsed by the administration) to make fun of the whole incident. There is a big difference between praying in silence and making a sick circus show in an international airport and in front of the foreign media. These clowns should be arrested on the spot and thrown into a mental asylum for a long, long time. They have turned a serious search and rescue investigation into a laughing stock of the world. It was basically a show of the middle finger to the missing passengers, relatives & friends in grieve and the heroic search and rescue team from the various nations.

Let’s just hope that the plane could be found soon and we can start to investigate on what had really happened.

Missing: William Yau Zhen Zhong


william

All we need to do now is to keep our eyes open and pray for the safe return of little William to his parents (finger pointing and certainly charging the parents with sheer recklessness can come later once he is safe and returned without any harm).

Missing Kid: T. Sathiskumar


He is still missing since last August 2012…

T. Sathiskumar went missing after following his grandfather E.P. Veloomurugan, 46, to a food court in Jalan Permatang Pauh here. He was travelling with his father, T. Tamil Vanan, 30, in his lorry until they stopped at the food court at 12.30pm. Tamil Vanan, from Ampang Jajar, Butterworth, was heading towards Bukit Kayu Hitam, Kedah, on his delivery rounds. At the food court, Sathiskumar disappeared in the crowd and could not be found.

State Criminal Investigation Department chief Senior Assistant Commissioner Mazlan Kesah said the boy weighed 15kg and was 70cm tall. He was last seen in a pair of green shorts and a T-shirt with a yellow Spiderman hat. Those with information on Sathiskumar’s whereabouts can call Inspector Mohamed Ehsan Abu Bakar at 012-2494002, or the nearest police station

Please keep an eye for him and parents, please keep close eyes on your kids too and don’t let them be another number in the missing children statistics.

FAQ Updated


MIA

(You will never know when you can go missing in action and leave the blog to collect dust.)

I read this ‘concern’ in Visithra’s blog couple years ago (I can’t recall the date and title of the post but I think it was sometime when we had the last tsunami)…

For sometime now, I have been wondering on the same question – how my readers know that I am dead or have quit blogging abruptly?

My concerns been growing considering that I have been in and out hostile countries and been flying a lot in recent years and to most readers, I am ‘partially’ anonymous (and I wish to remain that way) – so if anything happens to me, how many of them will know what had happened?

For that reason, I have updated the FAQ section on what conditions that the readers can assume that I have been “incapacitated” from updating my blog – so if you don’t hear from me for sometime, you get the idea what happened