Wednesday, March 26, 2014

MH370: The Search Continues

We understand, in no small measure, the frustration of the families and friends who have sustained these traumatic times in the reporting of the demise of flight MH370.
We do.
One wonders, however, why it is that there are riots outside the Malaysian Embassy in Beijing and not at the gates of Malaysian Embassies and High Commissions in other countries.
What is it that the Chinese relatives feel that they are not being told that, perhaps, other families have been told? Indeed, what news is there to tell them?

It has been mentioned before in this ‘Blog’ that the Malaysian authorities have done their best to cope in what has been—and continues to be, a unique and exasperating case. Similarities between this missing aircraft and other flights that have vanished have been... well... none.
What was, at first, thought to be quite a straightforward search, find and recover mission has developed into all manner of complexities.
What is it that people imagine the Malaysians could have done differently?
There have been incidents of mishandling of some situations, which is true and have been copiously reported worldwide. The SMS incident where relatives have been informed over their mobile ‘phones was spread instantly but, it occurs to this person, if the news was spread in this manner by the Malaysians—either as the ‘Search Authority’ or as MAS, or whether this was a forwarding of the news by Chinese authorities who immediately deflected the situation off on to the Malaysians when they saw the storm brewing on the media horizon.

This is not a defence of the Malaysians, it is merely an attempt to have a more sanguine look at the situation. To try and rid ourselves of the emotive content with which the media is bent on twisting this saga now that there is little in the way of concrete facts to give us.

To start with, we still have no evidence. The circumstantial evidence appears to point to the current search location in the Southern Indian Ocean. It is entirely possible that this assertion is correct. We shall see. Anything that stirs the smallest vestige of hope is better than a complete collapse and the admittance that nothing further can be gained by shutting up shop and sending the search aeroplanes and ships home.

But there is one more thing. Just one small, nagging doubt eating, like a maggot, in the back of the brain.
It is this.
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 was also marketed as China Southern Airlines Flight 748 (CZ748) through a codeshare.
Many of the passengers would have purchased their tickets through the China Southern Airlines desk possibly including, one would think, the two that had the false passports (this is, of course, a conjecture).
How silent China Southern Airlines has become. It is true that the aeroplane belonged to Malaysian Airlines System and that they have carried the brunt of the flack and abuse that the world has hurled at the Malaysians.
China Southern Airlines received the benefit of the codeshare but has done nothing to assist MAS with the families. China Southern Airlines is in a far better position to deal with the families than is MAS.
What have they done? Nothing according to the media reports.

Perhaps the accusations and virulence towards individuals should stop now and energy thus spent directed at the search effort instead. Perhaps a combined and concentrated effort on behalf of all the relatives and Nations of those lost rather than a focus on one Nation would be more desirable and effective.

Pointing fingers and making up stories is still not helping as it helped not one jot nearly three weeks ago.

The batteries in the Flight Data Recorder and Cockpit Voice Recorder are fading. Let us not allow our hopes to fade with them.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

MH370 Pt. III

How far have we advanced in the search for the missing aeroplane MH370?
Not far, it seems.
Theories, as one might expect, abound but none of them have drawn us, realistically, any closer to finding the Boeing 777 or, more importantly, its passengers.

These are trying times for the relatives and friends of those on board. Although the focus seems to be on the two thirds of the pax who are Chinese it must be remembered that the others are equally important. There are, for example, three Australians on board whose lives are just as important to their relatives and friends as are the lives of those who live in China.

I was bemused to hear, on an American based news channel, that the US has already ‘poured fifty million dollars’ into the search effort. Really? I am considerably underwhelmed. There were, I believe, Americans on board whose families will rile at the suggestion that supplying insurgents with weaponry to the tune of far in excess of fifty million dollars (US Dollars, one presumes) is money better spent than in trying to discover what has happened to their kin.

This is not a political rant. It is a point of disgust at the media who, even now, are trying to lay blame and create sensational headlines where none exist.
We have been through the suggestions that the crew are to blame, that the engineering staff are to blame, that the cargo loaders are to blame where, in truth, nobody knows.
We have suffered the enduring complaints against the Malaysian Government who are, if we are to be realistic about this, blameless. They have acted in the best interests of everybody throughout.
There are few countries, if any, in the World that could have done better under these circumstances. Of course there are ‘National Interests’ in play just as there were ‘National’ and ‘Corporate’ interests in play when the Americans and the British were said to be slow in giving up information.
The truth is that these people were not slow. Nobody has been slow. Data needs time to be decoded and decrypted.
Last year there were close to thirty four million departures from airports worldwide. Finding one flight among those, even when you know the time and date, is like the proverbial needle in a haystack. That this aircraft was not fitted with the latest technology is excusable; every airline wants to cut costs, there is no bottomless pit in the middle of one of their hangars containing funds to upgrade equipment or, for that matter, personnel.

There is now a clue. A possible clue.
D├ębris has been found in the South Indian Ocean over fifteen hundred miles from Perth, Australia.
Whether it is part of the missing airliner we do not know but it is worth checking.
Note that: ‘...we do not know...”

At some point the search will grind to a halt. The reasons for the missing aircraft will be in a file labelled ‘Unsolved’.
No doubt accusations will reverberate around the Globe in the media and in political circles for a long time.

We can only hope that, before the cash and the will to go on runs out something will be found, something that will bring closure to the families and friends of all on board—including the crews.

Until then, we do not know. We are still guessing, we are still speculating.

Saturday, March 15, 2014

MAS Flight MH370 Pt. II


During the past hour the Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dato' Sri Najib Razak, has held a press conference.

Before I make my own comments about the information tendered let me say that what he said and, more importantly, the way that he said it in terms of expression and body language was impressive.

The statement, as a whole, merely ratified my sentiments in the first ‘Blog’ on this matter.
To remind you, this was that “we do not know”.
Anything beyond that point is speculation.

Over the last week there has been a massive guessing game played by the media and on the internet.
Suddenly everyone on the Globe is an aviation expert. Everyone has a theory, everyone is convinced that this is right or that the events were as follows...

In spite of the subject matter of my last ‘Blog’ I am still getting people asking me what happened. I have stated, time and again, to people who ask me personally what my thoughts are on the aircraft’s disappearance and each time I am forced to say, “I don’t know.”
Because I do not know.

In the event that some form of solid evidence appears that can be corroborated by the experts tasked with this duty nobody knows.
We have had a serious exposition from a young student who spoke ardently of cabin depressurisation; of cracks in the B777 fuselage that could have disabled the aircraft’s ACARS (Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System) system as well as the transponder that reports back to a ground interrogation system; many theories that have been considered, seriously, by an avid media.
All of them baseless in fact.
Note: ‘In fact’.

Now, as a result of an excellently proceeding investigation involving many International parties—all of whom have to be organised and shuffled in to some sort of teamwork, there is a probable result from one of the satellite systems that circle our World.
Because the satellite images have to be decoded and deciphered it has taken some while to sift through what is available.
The agencies involved have taken the brave step of saying what they have so far.
They tell us that there are two possible routes that the aircraft might have taken. Why are there two? Because, as mentioned above, it takes a while to sort through the data and, at this point in time, there are two possible situations that have come to light.
In terms of the search effort it is clear that having one source only would be ideal but, at least, having two is better than having no information at all.

Dato' Sri Najib Razak said that a hijack is only one possibility.
He is right.
The press will immediately jump on the ‘hijack’ as being “THE ANSWER’; they are, possibly, correct.

We do not know.

We wait for further evidence.

Monday, March 10, 2014

Flight MH370 MAS

In the past few days we have been beset with much grief – again.
Because another aircraft is missing with people on board.
There are many people aboard this aeroplane but, in real terms it matters little if there are five hundred or there is only one person. It is a matter of scale and the quantity of grief with which the World becomes awash.

Let us stop, just for a moment, and consider a couple of things here.
Firstly we should look at that third sentence. It says that an aircraft is missing.
Say that again slowly, ‘an aircraft is missing.’
Notice that, at the end of the sentence, there is a full stop. It is at precisely this point that the conversation should stop. Anything said after that is conjecture, it is speculation; there is no place in aviation for that. None.
When we get to that full stop we say, in our heads, that ‘we don’t know’ what happened. And that part is the truth. We do not know.

Shall we move on to a headline. It is dramatic, it is sensational. It shouts at us that ‘Terrorism Suspected in Missing Flight’.
This is guessing. It is speculation. There is absolutely no evidence to support this idea. That there are people flying on the aircraft with stolen passports is no indication of terrorism at all. There are a thousand reasons – well, several, anyway, why someone should be flying with a stolen passport and terrorism is not one of them.
We have ‘International Terrorism’ stuck in our heads by the media who are so anxious that there should be ghouls and ghosties behind every headline.
Consider this: there are only three questions ever asked by the news media. They are:
1.                  How bad is it?
2.                  How bad can it get?
3.                  What can be done about it.
They never, ever, ask about the good news.

These guessing games played by the news are no comfort to the friends and families of those who are missing. It is much better to say nothing, or pray for them if you will, than go on these wild crusades.

We hope that, ultimately, they will find the FDR (Flight Data Recorder – the ‘Black Box’) and the CVR (Cockpit Voice Recorder so that the truth may finally reveal itself to us.

Until then all else is conjecture. It is rumour, hearsay and, mostly, nonsense.
Let us not spread it around. Even if only for respect.

Thank you.