The Malaysian government and airline have displayed many shortcomings during the past three months and I hope for the sake of the travelling public that they introduce a serious revision of their systems and procedures. Prompt and decisive action should have been taken at the outset of this incident.
There are many lessons here not just for Malaysia. The time this incident first occurred was a primary factor. I’ve written previously about the nature of night work and specifically the lack of management in the early hours. Any incident needs managers to direct the actions of their staff and they must be contactable at short notice without fear of repercussions for waking them up at 1.30am.
False eyewitness reports and conspiracy theories have arisen as a result of this incident and the Malaysians have only themselves to blame. An early press briefing of exactly what they knew including what they had or hadn’t seen on radar may have reduced false reports and given more credibility to the investigation.
My own speculation has travelled full circle to arrive back at my original premise of an accident not caused by criminal interference. The radar track is unidentified and it’s possible that 9M made a single turn onto a fixed heading to intersect the first ping arc. Playing with Google Earth is not accurate navigation and my figures are merely a guide. Nevertheless I calculate a groundspeed of 480 knots for a direct track compared to a groundspeed of 502 knots for the zigzag track published by the authorities. That speed could only have been achieved by tracking directly from the 0222 position to the ping arc at 0229 and would have produced a left turn at 0222. A left turn any later would have resulted in an even higher groundspeed.
More important is the True Air Speed over 77% of the track of 633kts(supersonic!) (the only wind I have is Penang surface:calm and High Level:NE 20kts) It’s been argued that a track across Sumatra would have been seen by Indonesian radar, if Malaysia didn’t see it, why do we assume that Indonesia would? Based on speed, I think a direct track more likely than the zigzag. (see calculation )
(Edit 21/6 Earth free edition has no spherical ability and the line measure in 3D is a direct distance not taking the earths curvature into account. The real distances would be longer but the times remain fixed therefore making the speeds even faster.Consequently the calculation method remains valid and can only point to MH370 becoming a Concorde for 77% of the official track ! )
Also worth noting on map 2 is the unverified position of EK343 (see map below) My plotting puts its track 25nm to the west of the radial distances/Butterworth and yet other information shows MH370 tracking VAMPI-MEKAR . I'm not sufficiently confident in my own plotting and calculations to announce anything other than a suspicion and hope that having given my full calculation method, someone will carefully check and arrive at their own conclusion.
From the outset I had doubts about the validity of the track across the Malaysian peninsular. In the most recent interview with Inmarsat they have admitted that all their calculations have been based on a start point. From the ATSB we can reasonably assume that they have used the 0222MYT position as a start point and all the search areas have been based on that. Many aviators have attributed human control of the aircraft based on that information and have every right to be angry should the track be proven to be fiction.
Three months later and I still have no idea of what was seen on radar to the east of Pulau Perak. A chart with all relevant information including times, altitudes and sections of known and calculated route could have been produced without giving away military secrets. Early leaks of police investigations into the crew and passengers were reprehensible smears against people unable to defend themselves and should never have been in the public domain until the complete causes of the incident were known. At this time the consensus of scientific opinion suggests a southerly track with a final site somewhere near the last ping arc. How and why it arrived there may never be known.This tragedy with no conclusion, few facts and much speculation has become an ignominious part of aviation history.
A non-sensationalist plausible explanation by an experienced pilot. Like myself, his posts to PPRuNe were censored and by his request I've posted on my site here; Please read John's explanation.
(right click for larger image of EK343 )
More questioning of the track across the Malay peninsular.