The Bermuda Triangle has shifted east

Here are the lead-ins at Drudge.

Malaysian plane was ‘deliberately’ diverted…
‘Act of piracy’…
Sharp Changes in Altitude and Course After Jet Lost Contact…
Descended 40,000 feet in minute…
THEORY: Landed on remote island…
Satellite Firm Says Data From Jet Could Offer Location…
Missing airliner reveals huge market for bogus passports…

And this is from the first of the articles listed:

Military radar data suggests a Malaysia Airlines jetliner missing for nearly a week was deliberately flown hundreds of miles off course, heightening suspicions of foul play among investigators, sources told Reuters on Friday.

Analysis of the Malaysia data suggests the plane, with 239 people on board, diverted from its intended northeast route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing and flew west instead, using airline flight corridors normally employed for routes to the Middle East and Europe, said sources familiar with investigations into the Boeing 777′s disappearance.

Two sources said an unidentified aircraft that investigators believe was Flight MH370 was following a route between navigational waypoints when it was last plotted on military radar off the country’s northwest coast.

This indicates that it was either being flown by the pilots or someone with knowledge of those waypoints, the sources said.

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295 Responses to The Bermuda Triangle has shifted east

  1. Bruce of Newcastle

    The other thing that has got the blogosphere going is the report of a jet going over Kuda Huvadhoo in the Maldives at coconut tree level and headed SE. Flying low from that direction would be a radar evading tactic. There is no other earthly reason for a big jet to be flying low over that island.

    The place where it might have been headed is Gan International Airport at the very south of the Maldives. Its an interesting place being an ex RAF base which has been recently upgraded. Its also interesting because it seems mainly to service charter flights for the tourist resorts. And is right on the ocean with jetty access.

    So did it land there as a ‘tourist flight’, refuel and head to Somalia? With helpers shipped in on a pirate trawler? Who knows…

  2. TonyOrlando

    “So did it land there as a ‘tourist flight’, refuel and head to Somalia? With helpers shipped in on a pirate trawler? Who knows…”

    Leaving aside that it would have to be in the air a long time in order to time its arrival in the Maldives at dawn in order for the good folk of Kuda Huvadhoo to observe the plane markings and the fact that it means that the satellite handshake data is also nonsense – surely if Somalia had suddenly acquired a 150 Chinese they would have let us know by now?

    Why would Somalians want 150 Chinese, why would anyone want 150 Chinese for that matter? To do what with?

  3. Leo G

    “Looks more like a spot beam footprint and GPS tracking info than the earlier red arcs BS.” – egg_

    Notice that the tracking info course is a line that projects back towards the Maldives?

  4. egg_

    The problem with trying to obtain original data (and even trying to find out how it’s processed) is that:
    - Inmarsat is a private company;
    - ACARS data is encrypted (mil spec)
    SITA was in receipt of both (decrypted) but of course will only divulge anything to the authorities.

    Presumably the slow trickle of information coming out will eventually reveal all that the authorities know of the matter.

  5. egg_

    via PPRuNe:

    “(from a very recent 777 FCOM)
    ACARS Manager Page 2/2
    This page allows the operator to select/deselect VHF or SATCOM transmission of data. ACARS is set to auto mode (both boxes selected) at power-up or during a manual data communication system reset. Normally, this permits ACARS to automatically use VHF or SATCOM (if VHF is unavailable). If both boxes are deselected, ACARS loses the capability to send downlink messages, but can receive and display uplink messages.

    ‘Uplink’ is relative to the LES (Land Earth Station).
    Agrees with the concept that MH370 was being polled for an hourly report and would have exchanged some low level handshaking via the Inmarsat TDM/TDMA system, even if no report were issued; however, I believe that the Swift64 terminal, with integral GPS, could provide an hourly ‘position report‘ (location, heading, speed) independent of ACARS, per the Inmarsat C MES protocol.

  6. Leo G

    egg_, the published diagrams show a Southern Indian Ocean search area and tracking lines that don’t appear to agree. The Search Area has a 20 degree fan that projects from a point south of India. The tracking lines originate from a point much further east. The south most points on the tracking lines aren’t even in the Search Area.
    So clearly the diagrams are indicative only, they do not accurately reflect the detected course.

  7. egg_

    Inmarsat Powerpoint (PDF)
    http://info.ee.surrey.ac.uk/Teaching/Courses/eem.scma/inmarsat.pdf

    Slide 17: Functional diagram of MES system (Inmarsat C)
    Slide 27: Of interest re spot beams (I-3)
    Slide 34: (IOR I-4 65 deg E) SW ‘E’ cell = Aus SAR search area?

  8. egg_

    So clearly the diagrams are indicative only, they do not accurately reflect the detected course.

    Agreed.
    The SAR search area looks like the last cell entered, whereas the lines indicate tracking of some kind.

  9. Leo G

    The SAR search area looks like the last cell entered, whereas the lines indicate tracking of some kind.

    Yes, it would be consistent with a narrow beam Venn-type intersection area extended along in the direction inferred by tracking.

  10. TonyOrlando

    My sources tell me that a US plane was first on the scene of the possible sighting in the Indian Ocean. Which means that the chances of finding wreckage is very very good (my sources were not so clear if the plane would be carrying what we term in the trade as “canned goods”)

    That just leaves the vexed question of what possible scenario are we going to use to get the plane there in the first place?
    Ideas?

  11. Combine_Dave

    May have been found now….

    Off the coast of Australia….

  12. Bruce of Newcastle

    Dave – The satpics look awfully like melting icebergs to me. White, irregular and nearly submerged…

    If so that will be quite embarassing to us, given how the global media has jumped on the story.

  13. Leo G

    ” The satpics look awfully like melting icebergs to me. White, irregular and nearly submerged… If so that will be quite embarassing to us, given how the global media has jumped on the story.”

    A bergy bit or a small iceberg of those lengths would be about 5m above sea level and be clearly recognisable. The objects are definitely less buoyant than ice, but the shape of the largest piece is not consistent with debris from the breakup of a b777. It could be flotsam that is still breaking apart, originating from the French research station at Amsterdam Island a few hundred km away.
    The publicity could lead to some embarrassment, but was necessary. The PM could hardly have committed the $millions to the search and exposed Australian search and rescue personnel to some risk, without making a public statement.

  14. could lead to some embarrassment

    The PM said at the outset that the pictured objects might not be related to the missing aeroplane but are worth investigating. If searchers locate the objects and prove that they’re unrelated to MH370, how is that embarrassing? Honest errors, made with the best intentions, openly corrected, should never be embarrassing.

  15. Leo G

    That just leaves the vexed question of what possible scenario are we going to use to get the plane there in the first place? Ideas?

    The timing of the last radar siting and the inferred last position (flight path/satellite arc intersection) implies that the plane could only have flown the most direct route that evaded radar from the vicinity of Penang, with a final course approximately parallel to 90 E longitude.
    The altitude and airspeed changes near Penang suggest a possibility that pilot/hijackers were giving themselves an opportunity to exit the plane by reversing the external doors pressure differential.

  16. egg_

    Via PPRuNe, NTSB hourly tracking data on map (methinks they’re being cagey about the MES hourly position reports which I’m sure existed in an LES file by default even if MAS were not subscribing to the service).

    http://www.pprune.org/rumours-news/535538-malaysian-airlines-mh370-contact-lost-371.html#post8395168

  17. Tel

    Egg, looks like they followed my suggestion of cross-referencing multiple satellite time offsets against the aircraft flight speed. I thought that would narrow it down a bit. Very nice to see Australia’s top brass come reading my posts on Catalaxy :-)

  18. Leo G

    The satellite photo object is consistent with aircraft ULD-3 package.
    Cardboard packages stacked together to fit a standard volumetric profile, placed on a timber pallet, covered with plastic sheeting, and secured by rope netting. In the water the netting would keep the packages loosely together, but would allow the containers to spread out within the net.
    Might be a poor radar image, so easily missed by the Orions.

  19. egg_

    Tel
    #1235677, posted on March 23, 2014 at 12:03 pm

    I think your MES obs are on the ball, especially if you read the TMF link above, unfortunately timing information (i.e. MES TDMA uplink send channel buffering) looks to be the terminal’s responsibility so unknown to the NCS unless reported via a log file.
    Methinks the minimum information used above is that the last terrestrial ACARS showed a southern heading and there were further hourly registration calls by the NCS which were picked up the global antenna and may have also been logged by spot beam antennae hence the SAR search area and extrapolated tracking info.
    But yes a very good grasp of the layer I nuts & bolts mate.
    (GPS info appears for MES use for Sat region, Az (compass heading) and El (look angle) per a BGAN terminal setup).

  20. Leo G

    This incident highlights flaws in the way aircraft surveillance is shifting from independent (primary radar) to cooperative (SSR and ADS-B).
    The new paradigm necessitates that aircraft have operating ATCRBS transponder and operating ADS-B function, but does not allow adequately for pilot misfeasance, system failure, or redundancy, and yet involves reducing the land and coastal coverage of primary radar.

  21. egg_

    Logging-out
    If the equipment is to be switched off because it is not required, it is essential that the system be logged-out. Logging-out causes the MES DTE to transmit a log-out signal to the NCS. This act keeps the NCS, and Inmarsat, informed of the operational status of the MES and enables traffic to be re-routed.
    If no logging-out of the NCS takes place, all the elements of the Inmarsat-C system register the terminal as available or traffic. The NCS will continue to call the MES and instruct it to tune to TDM channel for traffic, causing unnecessary signalling. Because the MES does not send a n ‘assignment response’ message, the LES assumes that the to-mobile announcement did not get through. After a few minutes the LESrepeats the sequence, sending another MES ‘status request’ call to the NCS and awaits an assignment response from the MES. This signalling may continue for *up to an hour* until eventually the LES stops attempting to communicate with the MES.
    This unnecessary signalling uses satellite transponder time and consequently the MES may be charged even though the message is never received.”*

    From previous, the LES (Land Earth Station) is the element requesting a status report from the MES (i.e. position report, ACARS, etc.) and must have been set up for this MES via Inmarsat by Boeing as the LES hosts user data services, not Inmarsat network services.
    Hence the NTSB’s knowledge of events/data.

    *c/- David Calcutt, Laurie Tetley.

  22. egg_

    the LES repeats the sequence, sending another MES ‘status request

    Which is the ‘pinging’ referred to in the lay press; from previous, the LES is polling the MES for a report, i.e. higher layer user information, based on preconfigured data in the Inmarsat system by the customer, likely Boeing on airlines’ behalf at MES commissioning.

  23. Leo G

    Egg_, Why do you think the charts used in the search operation still indicate ping arc intersection point markings along the inferred flight path that are consistent with ping frequencies greater than once per hour?

  24. egg_

    egg_
    #1235842, posted on March 23, 2014 at 4:04 pm

    Implies that a ‘logged-in’ MES would be polled at least hourly by the Inmarsat system (NCS) and if it doesn’t respond would be de-registered (so that it doesn’t tie up resources).
    The fact that MH370′s MES is able to ‘log in’ to Inmarsat means that it has an LES registration file and is known to the system.

    Thus satisfies the hourly ‘pings’ argument (I wish they’d drop that crap terminology).

  25. egg_

    - MES (Mobile Earth Station, i.e. Swift64 terminal) constantly “listens” to Inmarsat IOR 64 deg Satellite ‘NCS (Network Control System – hardware in Inmarsat Earth Station and logs network registration events, etc.) common channel’ (TDM downlink) to register, for timing information and to obtain ‘message channel’ information (TDMA uplink).
    2 Uplink Channels:
    - ‘MES signalling channel’: Transmits requests, data reports, etc. In addition, it carries login and logout from MES to *NCS*.
    - ‘MES message channel’ (actual send data)
    Note: an Aero MES usually ‘logs in’ to the NCS automatically.
    ‘…’ = Inmarsat terminology.
    Again basically legacy Inmarsat C telegraphy (store and forward) technology.

    Inmarsat is proprietary info but IIRC (a few years ago, someone can Google?) in their basic TDM/TDMA system above timing information is determined by 8? ‘bursts’ in the NCS common channel frame preamble – of worsening severity (phase angle = propagation delay) and the MES chooses the relevant case for its uplink (signalling) channel.
    In the media access control protocol, the term referred to is ‘ranging’.

    Thus the 8:11 data may have consisted of an uplink signalling channel response from MH370′s MES, the channel and method indicating propagation delay consistent with an approximate Satellite ‘look angle’ of 40 degrees.

  26. Leo G

    I presume the MH370 MES was also communicating the keep-alive message via the Pacific Ocean Satellite during the first 2 hours of the flight.

  27. egg_

    “AUS press reported this morning (Monday) that Ocean Shield, an offshore support vessel with an underwater ROV on board and normally based in Sydney has been dispatched.

    Its got a way to go, just entering Bass Strait. This link shows her current position

    Live Ships Map – AIS – Vessel Traffic and Positions – AIS Marine Traffic (link)”

    C/- PPRuNe

  28. Leo G

    “AUS press reported this morning (Monday) that Ocean Shield, an offshore support vessel with an underwater ROV on board and normally based in Sydney has been dispatched.

    Autonomous Undersea Vehicles specialised for detecting the FDR signal should be deployed well ahead of the ROV. The sea floor along the Southeast Indian Ridge is a gentle undulation which should facilitate detection, but the end of the MH370 flightpath is so poorly defined that a multitude of AUVs will be needed.

  29. egg_

    Inmarsat is proprietary info but IIRC (a few years ago, someone can Google?) in their basic TDM/TDMA system above timing information is determined by 8? ‘bursts’ in the NCS common channel frame preamble – of worsening severity (phase angle = propagation delay) and the MES chooses the relevant case for its uplink (signalling) channel.
    In the media access control protocol, the term referred to is ‘ranging’.

    The above 8 burst choices would roughly equate with certain radii ‘look angles’. Inmarsat say they compared with other southerly flights, presumably to compare vectors for the rate of change between radii, giving a higher probability to a southern vector as opposed to a northern vector, so it looks like it was all done using global antenna data.

  30. Bruce of Newcastle

    It doesn’t look like the security services are ready to put the northern track to bed quite yet.

    Two Dutch F-16s Scrambled To Intercept Unidentified Boeing 777

    Its not only the Chinese passengers’ families who want hard evidence of confirmed MH370 debris I suspect.

  31. Leo G

    Its not only the Chinese passengers’ families who want hard evidence of confirmed MH370 debris I suspect.

    Considering the vague terrorist signatures in the timing of the incident and the peculiar 186.5 degree azimuth of the final course of MH370, which also points at a symbol of socialist revolution, it’s hardly surprising that such resources have been dedicated to the search.

  32. Has any nation sent a submarine to the search zone? If not, why not?

  33. egg_

    Implies that a ‘logged-in’ MES would be polled at least hourly by the Inmarsat system (NCS) and if it doesn’t respond would be de-registered (so that it doesn’t tie up resources*).
    The fact that MH370′s MES is able to ‘log in’ to Inmarsat means that it has an LES registration file and is known to the system.

    Thus satisfies the hourly ‘pings’ argument (I wish they’d drop that crap terminology).

    Which implies that every time the aircraft flew, it was tying up 2 uplink channels (signalling + transmit) and LES resources were also dedicated.
    Even if MAS did not elect to receive ACARS it stands to reason that the Boeing system was intact and likely receiving valid data unless proven otherwise, even if the data was simply being stored on an LES server.

    *Which would be billed to Boeing.

  34. Leo G

    The notion of a pilot disabling the communications systems and waiting for the plane to run out of fuel in eight hours’ time seems far-fetched. It only makes sense if the pilot killed himself and the passengers and crew by depriving them of oxygen after setting a course on autopilot.” Anne Davies, The Age

    Actually, it would make more sense if the pilot planned an escape route for himself. Even more so if the culprit was not of the official flight crew- possibly someone with an unauthorised key to the cockpit door. Keep in mind Malaysian Airways legendary compliance with security protocols.

  35. egg_

    My tinfoil hat theory is rather boring – the aircraft strayed off course for whatever reason and was shot down e.g. by the Chinese; it’s been an international incident and everyone’s keeping stumm.
    The Inmarsat dead south route vanishing into open sea was just to give the relatives closure.

  36. Mk50 of Brisbane, Henchman to the VRWC

    Sigh.

    Hot. Heavy. Nosewheel fire an hour after t/o.

    Aviate, navigate, communicate.

    The pilot aviated and boresighted on the diversion runway at Langkawi. Meanwhile the copilot’s popping the electrical busses to siolate the fire and work out if it’s nosewheel or electrical.

    The pilots are then incapacitated/killed by the smoke. The third priority does not happen.

    The flight computer then sets to default mode while screaming the cockpit alarms.

    And she flies on until fuel exhaustion.

    It has happened before, it will happen again.

  37. egg_

    And she flies on until fuel exhaustion.

    The due south bit is abit iffy for yours truly.

    No in flight Sat pix to speak of?
    Will there ever be?

    Likely the wreckage will not be recovered (not in the southern Indian Ocean, at least).

  38. Leo G

    No in flight Sat pix to speak of? Will there ever be?

    I wonder if any of the MH370 passengers tried using a PLB or satellite messenger like Spot or InReach. I often carry my own PLB in cabin luggage.

  39. egg_

    I wonder if any of the MH370 passengers tried using a PLB or satellite messenger like Spot or InReach. I often carry my own PLB in cabin luggage.

    I meant ‘spy’ Satellites’ pix.

  40. egg_

    On the subject of ‘comms’, almost forgot yours truly as a young T.O. (in training) decommissioned Kiribati’s HF telephony service when she went over to Inmarsat in ’86.
    AWA CLH-30J transmitter from memory, may have been one of a batch we sold to our poor relations in the RAN for the Princely sum of $1.00.

  41. Leo G

    AWA CLH-30J transmitter from memory ….

    Like the Tx units in the background of this pic?

  42. Leo G

    “The new information is based on continuing analysis of radar data between the South China Sea and the Strait of Malacca before radar contact was lost.
    It indicated that the aircraft was travelling faster than previously estimated, resulting in increased fuel usage and reducing the possible distance the aircraft travelled south into the Indian Ocean.” AMSA Media Release 28th March, 2014: 12.30pm (AEDT)

    This media release doesn’t make sense.
    We know the time of that last radar contact and we know how long the plane was airborne thereafter and until the last partial handshake signal was sent by the plane. If the plane was travelling faster, then surely it would end further south along its course, not further north.

  43. egg_

    Going on the earliest information and corroborated observations (i.e. discounting uncorroborated Inmarsat data) is very consistent with the pilot’s twitter theory of the incapacitated aircraft flying west of the Maldives; the 10,000 ft altitude is consistent with the computed glide angle (sans auto pilot) and and she may have slid into the sea c. 2,000 nm West of Malaysia on her last corroborated compass heading.

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