Sunday, March 8, 2015 marks one-year, since MH370’s Boeing 777-200ER (Registration Number 9M-MRO) airliner vanished with 227 passengers and 12 Malaysia Airlines crew members on board.
Photo Credit: Taken on July 28, 2013, at Shanghai Pudong Airport, by Steven Richardson, aviation analyst at FlyersPulse.com, of Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER, Registration Number 9M-MRO, which is reported by Malaysia Airlines as the crashed aircraft of Flight 370.
All contact with Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 was lost just 40 minutes into what was supposed to be a routine flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, China. The Boeing 777-200ER en-route was expected to make contact with Ho Chi Mihn air traffic control at the time it disappeared on March 8, 2014.
The flight was cruising at 35,000 feet in the safest phase of flight with 239 souls aboard, as something apparently mysterious perhaps catastrophic transpired. The immediate concern a year ago and up to this moment is locating the missing Boeing 777-200ER airliner to determine what happened. Above all, the human story irrevocably tied to this aviation mystery is how to bring closure to the grieving families for lost loved ones on-board.
KUALA LUMPUR, March 24, 2014 – Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announcing the ending of flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean at Putra World Trade Centre. Also present were Deputy Transport Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein (right), Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman (right) and Director General of Department of Civil Aviation Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman (left). Photo Credit: Department of Civil Aviation, Malaysia
Something Baffling or Catastrophic Happened.
A year later most people remaining interested in this aviation mystery now know a Boeing 777, like most airliners, constantly sends information back to the airline’s operations through a computerized data link. This allows the airlines to keep track of the Boeing 777 asset, so that the airline may become immediately aware of any maintenance, safety or security concerns, as they potentially happen.
In the case of the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 headed to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur, locally at 12:41 am Saturday (Friday afternoon ET), March 8, 2014, air traffic controllers in Subang, outside Kuala Lumpur, lost contact with the Boeing 777 plane over the Gulf of Thailand between Malaysia and Vietnam, 90 nautical miles northeast of Kota Bharu, Malaysia. Malaysia Airlines’ Boeing 777 asset was last tracked at 1722 Zulu (1:22 am local), when it disappeared from radar contact.
Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 pilot was 53 years of age and had 18,365 total flight hours. The First Officer was 27 years of age with 2,763 flight hours. Both were highly-experienced pilots.
The majority of passengers on flight MH370 were 153 Chinese citizens, including additionally, 38 Malaysians, 7 Indonesians, 6 Australians, 5 Indian, 4 French, 3 Americans, 2 New Zealanders, 2 Canadians, 1 Austrian, 1 Dutch, 1 Italian, and 1 Russian were reported to be aboard.
I honestly do not remotely envision or even speculate a Boeing 777-200 breaking up in midair. The Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 was in cruise during the safest phase of normal flight. The mysterious loss of this aircraft is either strangely baffling or likely catastrophic in nature. However, that’s speculation, ahead of recovery of the aircraft asset, as there are no confirmed reports of an emergency locator transmitter even being activated.
Malaysia Airlines has 15 Boeing 777-200 jets in its asset portfolio of about 100 planes. The Malaysian government carrier last month publicly reported its fourth straight quarterly loss.
What we don’t know much about as of Friday, March 6, 2015 are two alarming mysteries: (1) the exact flight path, including an “about-face” of the flight route alternatively directed hundreds of miles off the coast of Malaysia, according to Malaysian military radar, which was apparently allegedly executed by the pilots without warning or report of any problems or concerns; and (2) the broader “search for a cause” speculative undertaking along several hypothetical dimensions of either mechanical breach, human factors error, terrorism, or even a remarkably improbable theory of hijacking.
Who Really Knows Anything At This Point?
Consequences are extraordinary. The possible debris field may be massive. A “black-box” needs to be recovered to establish any chain of evidence and facts in this mystery. And, the experts remain front and center in performing their essential tasks of determining the circumstances and a cause of what happened. Human lives are at stake. Henceforward, patience in stating, speculating and storytelling of the truths is prudent.
Who knew then on Tuesday morning, March 11, 2014 all of these words in “Boeing 777 airplanes do not vanish or fall out of the sky” would still be just as relevant, as we approach MH370 one-year later on Sunday, March 8, 2015?
As I said on March 15, 2014 to The Washington Post and on Fox News Hannity on March 14, 2014, “There are two things missing here: the plane and patience.” We are still missing both. Patience, nonetheless a year since, remains steadfast upon us.
People always want to find the solution to the mystery. It’s a natural urge.”
Various timelines of the MH370 aviation tragedy are readily available at the Daily Telegraph (Australia), CNN International, The Straits Times Asia Report, International Business Times, and The Telegraph (U.K.). The Telegraph (U.K.) has the most complete running timeline of the MH17 aviation disaster here.
Photo Credit: Taken on July 28, 2013, at Shanghai Pudong Airport, by Steven Richardson, aviation analyst at FlyersPulse.com, of Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER, Registration Number 9M-MRD, which is reported by Malaysia Airlines as the crashed aircraft of Flight 17.
On Aljazeera Inside Story, I said on August 30, 2014, “Boeing 777 airplanes do not vanish or fall out of the sky” is a ridiculous notion to have to discuss for such an engineering marvel in the digital-age, operating as Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. And, “Boeing 777 airplanes should NOT be shot out of the sky,” is just as a ridiculous notion to have had to discuss again in such a short period of time within just over four months of MH370 for another engineering marvel, operating as Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, to be taken out of the sky by a ground-based computerized missile launcher.
Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 veered off course during its flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing on March 8 and is believed to have crashed into the Indian Ocean far off the western Australian coast. The search area has changed several times, but no sign or trace of the massive Boeing 777-200ER aircraft, or any of the 239 people aboard, has been found. However, Australian officials leading the MH370 search said in numerous statements over the past year that the missing Boeing 777-200 “will be found” in the southern Indian Ocean. Australian and Malaysian officials each investing US$60 million promise the search continues at dawn on Monday, March 9, 2015.
Much of what we already know up to over three-months of the international aviation safety and security saga has been adequately reviewed and chronicled (see “MH370 100th Day: Jets still don’t fall out of the sky,” as featured June 15 on LinkedIn Pulse Airlines & Aviation Channel). This is outside numerous additional conspiracy theories proposed as explanation of the Boeing 777-200ER airliner’s mysterious disappearance in the dark early morning hours of March 8. Additionally, here are six conspiracy theories on why MH370 vanished, reported today in The Telegraph (U.K.).
Summarized in “MH370 Six-Months Later: What Have We Learned” is the first six months of the MH370 mystery, which tells us what have we learned through these six key issues: (1) Going Forward Beyond Six Months into the Search for MH370, (2) Global Flight-Tracking Means No Lost Aircraft Again, (3) Road Map to Global Flight-Tracking Standards 2014, as chronicled in Aviation Week, (4) Two Arrests for Alleged Theft from MH370 Victims, (5) Fallout of a Dual-Crisis in Aviation Safety: Malaysia Airlines Reorganization, and (6) Flight MH370 Irrevocably Bonds to Flight MH17 in Aviation Disaster Recovery and Investigation. Taken up also along analogous lines, “six key questions six months after Malaysian Airlines flight vanished without a trace,” artfully puts forth another poignant way of looking at these acknowledged issues in The Telegraph (U.K.).
“We Will Find It!”
The Boeing 777-200ER airliner carrying 239 passengers, including 12 crew members and 153 passengers from China, disappeared from radar screens about an hour after departing March 8, 2014 from the Kuala Lumpur International Airport at 12.41 am, Malaysian local time.
Below Photo Credit: Graphic News, Australian Maritime Safety Authority, via The Telegraph (U.K.)
“According to the official account of MH370’s final hours, the missing plane probably did make a sharp left turn to fly west … soon after it lost radio contact with air traffic controllers … MH370 then flew south before running out of fuel and crashing into the ocean about 1,000 miles off the Australian coast, according to an analysis based on satellite tracking data,” as most recently reported in The Week (U.K.).
“The last 54 minutes of cockpit communication aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370” – published on March 21, 2014 exclusively by The Telegraph (U.K.) – “reveals conversations between the co-pilot and the control tower, and other air traffic controllers,” in the final moments as the Boeing 777-200ER was traveling to its last known position over the South China Sea.
“It includes exchanges from a point at which investigators believe the plane had already been sabotaged, as well as the last words of Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27, the co-pilot: ‘All right, good night’.” The Telegraph (U.K.) reported on March 21.
Aviation experts have said the sequence of messages appeared “perfectly routine.” They opine further, nonetheless, a small inconsistency stood out as somewhat strange, which only heightened the mysterious nature of the officially declared aviation accident.
Communications from MH370’s flight deck at 1.07 am, saying the Boeing 777-200ER airliner was flying at 35,000 feet (shown in the Mandarin to English translated message stream below between the Kuala Lumpur (KL) control tower and the flight deck of MH370 at altitude 350). This was unnecessary as it repeated a message delivered six minutes earlier.
Besides all the talk of satellites, pings, transponders, circuit breakers, Bluefin-21 unmanned underwater drones, dragging sonar devices called a “towfish”, Ocean Shield surface ships, Chinese-contracted, Zhu Kezhen, Australian-contracted, Fugro Equator and Fugro Discovery, and Malaysian-contracted, GO Phoenix deep sea survey ships, and southern Indian Oceanic underwater survey maps, what investigators also have on their side are basic scientific principles to get just a glimpse of the Indian Ocean floor, where the missing Boeing 777-200ER airliner of MH370 may reside.
In January, a fourth ship, the Fugro Supporter, joined the search, which employs an autonomous underwater vehicle that can “more easily maneuver along the mountainous, uneven seabed in a few areas the towfish can’t fully cover,” according to The Associated Press. “Unlike the towfish, the underwater drone doesn’t send real-time data back to the ship, so crews must haul it up at the end of each 24- to 36-hour mission to download the data.”
All of the deep oceanic survey ships head back to shore every four weeks or so to get fresh supplies — a trip that takes up to six days each way, The Associated Press reports.
“We will find it,” says Australian Transport Safety Bureau experts, upon observing the details revealed from the extraordinary ocean floor mapping. Like everything else in this world, planes are bound by fundamental rules of science — things like fuel burn, lift, weight ratios and, not the least, gravity — much as the possible deep sea location where MH370’s Boeing 777-200ER airliner may rest has uncovered stunning new findings for oceanic geodetic science and technology in that discoveries of two deep sea volcanoes never seen before have been revealed to humankind.
Of course, huge engineering marvels, like Boeing 777-200ER jets, don’t just vanish and they don’t just fall out of the sky, as associated with the continuing MH370 aviation tragedy and mystery. Much more rarely, Boeing 777-200ER airliners don’t just get blown out of the sky, as the world witnessed in the ongoing MH17 aviation disaster saga and investigation. These digital-age computerized flying machines of Boeing Commercial Airplane go up and they come down.
“It’s just a matter of time,” I said to The Washington Post on March 15, 2014 at the start of the MH370 disappearance. “People should be thinking more in terms of weeks and months.”
As we reach this milestone of MH370 still remaining lost one-year later, as history’s most extraordinary aviation tragedy and mystery, Australian and Malaysian search officials are now resolved in thinking more in terms of months and years.
Airliner oceanic loss history, since 1948, showing debris evidence, either never found, or airliner recovery from transatlantic, transpacific, and transpolar oceans after extensive searches for years, clearly tells us this.
Photo Credit: Bloomberg Visual Data
This is why I find the chart above extremely compelling, having historical data and information in which many should examine and take pause to contemplate just how challenging the oceanic searches are for lost Malaysia Airlines MH370 on March 8, 2014, and recently lost and found in the Java Sea off the coast of Indonesia, AirAsia QZ8501 on December 28, 2014, in relation to the lost Air France flight 447 airliner, which was eventually discovered in the mid-Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Brazil.
All total we have lost 80 large airliners since 1948 inside oceanic waters and remote regions of the world, like the South American Amazon, African bush land, and Asiatics. Only three of those 80 lost airliners have been found, Uruguayan Air Force flight 571, lost October 13, 1972 and found 72 days later; Eastern Airlines flight 980, lost January 1, 1985 and found in 2006; and Air France flight 447, lost June 1, 2009 and found May 2011.
Or Worse Yet, “Will We Find It?”
Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 was officially declared on Thursday, January 29, 2015, an accident and all lives presumed lost on the southern Indian Ocean floor, authorities say, after history’s largest and costliest oceanic airliner search for nearly eleven months as of Monday, February 9, 2015. Officially, this clears the way for Malaysia Airlines to pay compensation to victims’ relatives, while the search for the massive Boeing 777-200ER airliner continues, reports Reuters.
Photo Credit: Malaysia Airlines, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
“We officially declare Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 an accident … and that all 239 of the passengers and crew on board MH370 are presumed to have lost their lives,” Malaysia’s Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) director-general Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said in a statement.
“The announcement is in accordance with standards of annexes 12 and 13 of the International Civil Aviation Organization,” said the Malaysian DCA director-general. “It will allow families of the passengers to obtain assistance through compensation,” he said.
I predicted October 5 inside my LinkedIn Pulse article, “MH370 Found This Week: Officials Say “Not Where, But When”,” the following opening excerpt:
“Beginning today, the next 12 days of continuous deep sea scouring, unabated by harsh hurricane-like underwater oceanic weather conditions, is critical to uncovering the whereabouts of the massive Boeing 777-200ER airliner.”
“Wreckage or debris must be found during these critical 12 days before the underwater sea vessel equipment employed in this next search phase has to return back to shore for refueling and restocking. During this time as the deep sea vessel equipment is away, the conditions of the “priority search area” could change drastically. This could severely hamper and impede the ongoing MH370 search that could delay recovery of the missing Boeing 777-200ER for years.”
The Australian and Malaysian governments worked together to set this date to officially declare MH370 an accident and lost, as budget cuts began to impede the search for the missing airliner.
“… Once we have an official loss recorded we can work with the next-of-kin on the full compensation payments for those families,” Malaysia Airlines commercial director Hugh Dunleavy was quoted as saying in the New Zealand Herald on Tuesday November 4.
Declaration of Accident Opens Restitution Compensation to MH370 Families
Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told reporters “Malaysia should settle claims with the families,” as over 150 passengers on board of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 were Chinese, reports Reuters.
“We hope the Malaysian side honors its promises and fully investigates the incident, settling claims and making peace with the families, especially continuing to make all efforts to find the missing plane and its passengers,” the Chinese Premier said.
“Malaysia Airlines was ready to proceed immediately with the compensation process to the next-of-kin of the passengers on the flight,” Malaysia’s Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) director-general Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said in a statement on Thursday.
“All of the crew on MH370 have been investigated by the various security agencies, and as far as I’m aware, nothing has turned up that is (unexpected and inappropriate or unusual), Malaysia Airlines commercial director Hugh Dunleavy has already alluded.
“We do not believe it is anything to do with how we process or recruit staff, in fact those on board the aircraft had been with us for many years,” he said.
Responding further, he added, “We believe there was nothing related to the crew but we will not know 100 percent until we have access to the black-box.”
Dunleavy in New Zealand for four days back in early November was the highest ranking official of the flag carrier to comment on the unofficial loss of the MH370 aviation tragedy as an accident at that critical stage of the ongoing crisis then, until now, with today’s declaration of MH370 as an accident released officially.
Dunleavy urged relatives of the MH370 passengers and crew lost to be patient, as Malaysia Airlines arranges to pay compensation and battles to rebuild the brand reputation of the flag carrier (see “Huge Cuts Signal ‘Hail Mary’ for Malaysia Airlines” and “Malaysia Airlines Burns $2.16 Million in Cash a Day” on LinkedIn Pulse Airlines and Aviation Channel).
He said the Montreal Convention had set the ceiling on compensation at around US$175,000 (RM$582,000), although the families of the MH370 passengers and crew could take legal action to pursue higher payments.
“We will ensure we do compensate them for the loss of their loved ones through our insurers,” he added.
Dunleavy also said the flag carrier has learned lessons from its crisis management of the MH370 aviation tragedy.
“We’re always learning from situations, but the motivation and drive has been to look after the next-of-kin,” he said. “We are trying to hurry compensation (to the families) as much as we can, but some of these things are outside the scope of the airline itself.”
“If they’re not happy with the compensation, then they (the families are free to) seek legal advice and move ahead then … once they come in, our people will assess them and respond,” Dunleavy offered.
He added that restitution compensation to relatives of those killed in the MH17 aviation disaster in eastern Ukraine is more straightforward, as the flag carrier has a more sound preliminary footing and belief as to what supposedly happened to that Boeing 777-200 crash on July 17 (see also “Dutch Safety Board Releases MH17 Crash Report” on LinkedIn Pulse).
“We know exactly what happened with that aircraft and we can move ahead with the full compensation of family members aboard that aircraft,” Dunleavy said.
He said in the case of MH370, the flag carrier does not know what exactly happened in the aviation tragedy on March 8 until the Boeing 777-200ER wreckage is found.
“The search in the Indian Ocean is still going on and Malaysia is also conducting a criminal investigation,” Malaysia’s Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) director-general Azharuddin Abdul Rahman said in a statement on Thursday, via Reuters.
“Both investigations are limited by the lack of physical evidence at this time, particularly the flight recorders,” he said.
“Therefore, at this juncture, there is no evidence to substantiate any speculations as to the cause of the accident.”
“This declaration is by no means the end,” as the Malaysian DCA director-general reiterates that Malaysia, China, and Australia are still committed to completing the search for as long as it takes.
The DCA plans to release an interim report on the investigation into the missing jetliner on March 7, 2015, a day before the first anniversary of the disappearance, a Malaysian minister said on Wednesday, January 28, 2015, Reuters sources.
Going Forward Beyond One-Year into the Search for MH370.
Approaching two-thirds of the 60,000 square kilometer (650 kilometer long and 93 kilometer wide, or 23,000-square mile) high-priority search area 1800 kilometers (1,100 miles) off the coast of western Australia in the southern Indian Ocean has been surveyed to “support a safe and effective deep-water search. This three-dimensional map has been built from a combination of existing data and new higher resolution surveys.”
Photo Credit: Geoscience Australia.
Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) Chief Commissioner, Martin Dolan told The Times, “There is nothing that has screamed out and said ‘It look like an aircraft’,” he said. “It’s still a hell of an area. The area is horribly, horribly complicated.”
“The complexities surrounding the search cannot be understated. It involves vast areas of the Indian Ocean with only limited known data and aircraft flight information,” Dolan said.
“While it is impossible to determine with certainty where the aircraft may have entered the water, all the available data indicates a highly probable search area close to a long but narrow arc of the southern Indian Ocean.”
Dolan further added: “The search will be a major undertaking. The complexities and challenges involved are immense, but not impossible.”
“The best minds from around the world have been reviewing, refining and localizing the most likely area, where the aircraft entered the water, which is why we remain confident of finding the aircraft.”
Prepared for the ATSB, marked in red on the above map, is the new Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 priority search area, extending from Broken Ridge (shown on the right) to beyond Gludren Draak Seamount (shown on the left).
“Some people think there’s a hot spot in there that should be a starting point, but it’s pretty much equal priority across that area,” Dolan says. “So it’s no great surprise that having covered 40 percent, we haven’t located it yet. It might be down to the last 1 percent before we do.”
This ASTB priority search area features oceanic depths in the range of 1-3 thousand meters that needs to be covered, as search teams miraculously attempt to find “needles in a haystack” in recovering debris from the Boeing 777-200ER wreckage, including the airliner’s crucial two black-box flight data recorders.
After studying the area’s currents, Australian officials asked Indonesia in August to watch for any debris that might have floated west to the island nation’s shores, The Associated Press reports. Officials are now reviewing their drift modeling to see whether they need to revise their projections of where debris could have ended up. But because so much time has passed, Dolan has told The Associated Press all surface debris likely sank long ago.
Two survey ships, the Chinese, Zhu Kezhen, and the Australian-contracted, Fugro Equator, have been dispatched since early August to carry on the mapping tasks. This process has been crucial, as it has now mapped out possible hazards that could affect the next phase of deep-water search.
Australian government has committed to spending $80-$90 million on the MH370 search operation. Australian authorities has selected a prime contractor in the Dutch vessel firm, Fugro Survey, earmarked for one-year to oversee this $52 million next phase of the MH370 Boeing 777-200ER search, commencing late September, with three vessels, Fugro Equator, Fugro Discovery, and Malaysian-contracted ship, GO Phoenix.
Daniel O’Malley, ATSB spokesperson, however, cautioned that the MH370 search these past six months has been constrained to limited communications data of just eight “handshake” transmission signals from a lone satellite of the British firm, Inmarsat, and to very little aircraft flight information retrieve from the Boeing 777-200ER airliner, moments before it disappeared from radar screens in the early morning hours of March 8, 2014, as MH370 was flying en route to Beijing, China, less than an hour after the flight departed from Kuala Lumpur International Airport.
“The seventh handshake came after seven hours and 38 minutes of flight (with nothing heard from the crew for the previous seven hours [as flight MH370 veered extremely far off its original flight path]). The investigators now seem to be convinced that this signal was in response to an interruption in the aircraft’s power supply,” The Economist analyzes further.
“This analysis will enable us to prioritize our search within a vast area of the Indian Ocean so we can find the missing aircraft,” O’Malley said to The Sydney Morning Herald. “We need to remember, though, that it took two years to find Air France flight AF447, whose last position was known with much more precision. We’re dealing with a much more challenging set of circumstances.
O’Malley further added: “The arc associated with the seventh communications handshake is the most reliable information we have. We are confident that the aircraft will be found along that arc. Our task is to determine the priorities for searching on that arc. Priority zones for the underwater search are being finalized and ranked. We can then deploy excellent search technology and skilled crews available to us to search those zones thoroughly. All this work will ensure the best prospects of finding the aircraft and solving the mystery of MH370.”
Malaysia Airlines ground staff attempted to contact the flight crew of MH370 by satellite phone once it vanished on March 8 from radar, Australian officials announced on August 28, 2014. This short phone call is now being used to refine the probable final flight path of the missing Boeing 777-200ER airliner.
Australia’s deputy prime minister, Warren Truss, said analysis of the failed call to the plane, which disappeared on 8 March, “suggests to us that the aircraft might have turned south a little earlier than we had previously expected,” according to The Associated Press and Agence France-Presse.
“The search area remains the same, but some of the information that we now have suggests to us that areas a little further to the south – within the search area, but a little further to the south – are of particular interest and priority in the search area,” he said.
Source: News Corp Australia. Australian Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss (center) met in Canberra recently to commit Australia in a signed memorandum of understanding with Malaysia’s Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai (on the left) and
Six Australian nationals were among 239 people on board the Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 that disappeared en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Suddenly, the Boeing 777-200 airliner lost contact with air traffic control on that early morning March 8, 2014, as it was transitioning between Malaysian and Vietnamese airspace.
Earlier drawing search evidence from eight satellite signals from the British satellite firm, Inmarsat, its automated systems have pointed international teams searching for the Boeing 777-200ER whereabouts inside the southern Indian Ocean off Western Australia. However, recent findings of an early morning March 8 satellite phone call is “a new and separate detail.”
“After MH370 disappeared from the radar, Malaysia Airlines ground staff sought to make contact using a satellite phone. That was unsuccessful,” Truss said.
“But the detailed research that’s being done now has been able to […] trace that phone call and help position the aircraft and the direction it was travelling.”
Malaysia, as the country where the Boeing 777-200ER airliner was flagged, has overall responsibility for the crash investigation. But Australia has search and rescue responsibility for the area of the Indian Ocean, where the plane is thought to have crashed 1,800 kilometers (1,100 miles) off Western Australia, according to The Associated Press and Agence France-Presse.
“But investigators are a long way from being sure. […] If they find any wreckage from MH370, then an attempt will have to be made to locate and recover the aircraft’s flight recorders. Only then might it be possible to determine how a modern airliner could vanish so mysteriously. It is not just grieving relatives who want answers, but airlines too,” concludes The Economist recently.
Now is the Time for Consensus on Recommendations on the Future of International Aviation Safety and Security
In a single year of 2014, we have lost the lives of 758 international passengers and flight crews on three compelling global aviation crash events, comprising the oceanic loss of a Boeing 777-200ER airliner, flown as Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on March 8, 2014, the shooting down over a war-torn eastern Ukraine region of a Boeing 777-200 airliner, performing as Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 on July 17, 2014, and a crash in the Java Sea of an Airbus A320-200 airliner, operating as AirAsia flight QZ8501 on December 28, 2014.
Commercial passenger air travel industry groups released a report on global flight-tracking recommendations and standards on Wednesday, December 10, 2014 with adoption by February 2015.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) held a news conference at its Geneva headquarters Wednesday, announcing the report recommendations on global flight-tracking for its 240 member airlines. IATA’s 240 member airlines encompass 84% of international passenger air traffic.
Given that international commercial passenger air travel is expected to explode in the next decade (according to Boeing and Airbus industry projections), particularly in Southeast Asia, which is highly dependent upon air travel across deep seas and remote oceans for millions of people in the Southeast Asia and Oceania region, consensus on recommendations of global flight tracking of commercial passenger airliners, jet black-box data streaming, and ejectable flight data recorders, must be reached quickly among airline chiefs, aviation experts, and government officials at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) “Second High-level Safety Conference” on February 2-5, 2015 at its headquarters in Montréal, Canada.
Here, airline chiefs, aviation experts, and government officials approved a concept of operations for global flight-tracking, and moved forward in developing a global flight-tracking standard, carefully moving forward beyond February 2015. Additionally, ICAO plans to publish in 2016 its global flight-tracking standards.
Road Map to Global Flight-Tracking Standards 2014, as chronicled in Aviation Week, is given below in the Appendix.
Fallout of a Dual-Crisis in Aviation Safety: Malaysia Airlines Reorganization.
Malaysia Airlines is now in the fog of the greatest dual-crisis in international aviation safety and security history,” I said recently on Reuters.
As I added further on July 18 to Reuters, it was unprecedented for a commercial airline to suffer two tragedies in such rapid succession with 537 people dead. “I don’t see how Malaysia Airlines is going to recover from this as a firm.”
Malaysian Airline System, Bhd was restructured and privatized to ensure the air carrier remains afloat this year.
Majority owned by the Malaysian state-run investor, Khazanah Nasional, officials is seeking private restructuring and new investors to rebuild the suffering southeast Asia air carrier.
Khazanah confirmed it wanted to buy the shares it does not already own in Malaysia Airlines, to delist from the Kuala Lumpur market the southeast Asia air carrier, and to carry out a “complete overhaul” and comprehensive re-branding, says Breaking Travel News.
Private ownership will give its parent company room to introduce an appropriate capital structure to meet the airline’s “substantial funding requirements” in the next few years, and to sustain operations amid a high level of debt, Malaysia Airlines has said in an official statement.
“It is easier to restructure if it’s a private company,” Ang Kok Heng, the Kuala Lumpur-based chief investment officer of Phillip Capital Management, said before the announcement on August 8. “They don’t need to worry about making announcements and the timing of it.”
A statement from Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak said: “This is the first step needed to return our national carrier to increase profitability.”
“It is a step I wholeheartedly support.”
The Malaysian cabinet, chaired by Prime Minister Najib Razak, on Wednesday, August 27, approved Malaysia Airline’s business restructuring plan, which also called for focusing the airline’s core southeast Asia regional routes, while retaining a number of its historically profitable international flights to China and Australia to help feed traffic to its routes pulling in and out of its hub at Kuala Lumpur, a person familiar with the plan said on Thursday, August 28 to the Financial Times.
Malaysia Airlines announced on August 28 a new business plan, asking for nearly 6000 staff cuts, curtailed long-haul routes, and a US $1.9 billion dollar Malaysian government bail-out, as it reported a 75 percent wider loss in second-quarter earnings, as operations further stalled from passenger bookings continuing to slide in response to the air carrier’s dual-crisis in the past six months from the loss of 227 passengers and 12 crew on board the MH370 aviation tragedy on March 8, and the loss of 283 passengers and 15 crew on board the MH17 aviation disaster on July 17.
On the following day, August 29, Malaysian officials and Malaysia’s sovereign wealth investment company, Khazanah Nasional, announced that top-level management for the Malaysian flag carrier would remain in place for now.
The airline said its losses in profitability in the quarter ending in June grew to just over 307 million Malaysian ringgit (US $97.6 million dollars). These losses are much deeper than those posted as US $55.9 million dollars at the same time last year. However, the company’s results on August 28 were an improvement from the net loss of US $140.8 million dollars in the January-March first quarter report.
Malaysia Airlines further forecasts poor second-half earnings, signaling the air carrier’s “average weekly bookings had declined 33 percent, with numerous flight cancellations immediately after the shooting down of Flight MH17 over Ukraine in July,” reports Reuters and the New York Times.
Passenger loads dropped from over 80 percent to 74 percent, while the air carrier’s operating expenses rose 2 percent on higher fuel costs, maintenance costs, and labor costs. The southeast Asia air carrier is spending through $2.16 million a day inside its cash reserves, and the firm is losing $1.6 million a day in its operations.
“The fact that both incidents have occurred within such a short span of time had exacerbated the situation and severely damaged the airline’s brand and business reputation, accelerating the need to restructure the company,” the Malaysian flag carrier said.
Malaysian Airline System BHD, announcing nearly 6000 job cuts, is also conducting further reviews of aircraft orders, expanding out-sourcing, as well as, replacing its chief executive officer, after the national flag carrier suffered two disasters this year, people familiar with the new business plan said to The Sydney Morning Herald.
The Sydney Morning Herald further reported on Wednesday, August 27, Khazanah is also talking to as many as three people as possible candidates to replace the flag carrier’s chief executive officer, Ahmad Jauhari Yahya, whose term is due to expire in mid-September, persons close to the discussions said.
Airline industry analysts quietly believe August 28 business plan announcement will likely shift the air carrier in 4-5 years into a “premium entrepreneurial airline” instead of a full-service carrier, focusing on a leaner by 30 percent reduced workforce, new top-level management structure, and competitive ticket pricing strategy of uniquely re-branded economic value-added to commercial passengers in the southeast Asia market. This altogether aims to dismantle the heavy cash burn inside the air carrier’s domestic and international routes.
As I have recently addressed in this broader question, “Can Malaysia Airlines Save Its Brand?” on LinkedIn Pulse Airlines and Aviation Channel,
The Bottom-Line Takeaway of the August 28 Approved Business Restructuring Plan is:
Malaysia Airlines aims to become the international air carrier entrepreneur in the southeast Asia region.”
This could be achieved through better pricing and operational cost mechanisms in the international discount airline industry.
The Malaysian Defense Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein said the search for the jetliner, which disappeared on March 8 with 227 passengers and 12 crew members on board, would continue, despite the loss of MH17 over Ukraine last month, as reported recently in The Mirror.
“I wish to inspire our personnel besides giving a signal to family members of the victims that while we are busy with the MH17 crash, we did not forget about the search for MH370.”
The causes of calamity lie … simply with our species’ vulnerability to mishap, with the extreme fragility of our constitution, and [with] the unpredictability of nature. We are reminded that we are only ever a rogue spark, a tenacious germ, a loose tile, or a strong gust of wind away from [eternity].”– Alain de Botton (2014)
Flight MH370 Irrevocably Bonds to Flight MH17 in Aviation Disaster Recovery and Investigation.
Debris from the MH17 crash site in Donetsk (Ukraine) on July 17 was scattered across 35 square kilometers (13 square miles) of rebel-held territory.
“A month after the MH17 air disaster in eastern Ukraine the investigation still has a very long way to go,” BBC’s Anna Holligan reports from The Hague.
Passengers from 10 different countries were on board flights MH370 and MH17. As two-thirds of the 298 people on board the exploded Boeing 777-200ER airliner of flight MH17 were from The Netherlands, the Dutch have taken the lead in identifying the bodies, in trying to establish what caused the crash, and in running the criminal investigations, says the BBC. As two-thirds of the 239 persons on board flight MH370 were Chinese, but the missing Boeing 777-200ER airliner is believed to have crashed in the southern Indian Ocean off the western coast of Australia, the Australian officials working alongside the Malaysian officials have taken the lead in the international search.
“Never before have we had a murder case with so many victims,” said Wim de Bruin from the Dutch prosecution service, fielding international press inquiries from all over the world.
According to the BBC, there are three main questions about the eventual MH17 trial: (1) Where will it be conducted? (2) What crimes will the accused be charged with? (3) How long before we see the suspects in court?
International Criminal Court in The Hague will the legal tribunal with ten Dutch prosecutors and 200 police officers involved in gathering and preparing the evidence for a criminal trial.
A courtroom at the International Criminal Court, The Hague. Photo Credit: CC BY Extraordinary Chambers in the Courts of Cambodia, Flickr.
Wim de Bruin says they are considering “several grounds and possibilities” concerning the charges.
“Of course, [the crime of] ‘murder,’ but we also have the crime of ‘wrecking an airplane.’ And, we could use international criminal law – that would mean possible charges of ‘war crimes,’ ‘torture’ and ‘genocide’.”
Any suspects liable to the MH17 aviation incident would be extradited, pending approval of the suspects home jurisdiction, to face trial at the District Court in The Hague.
Twenty-five experts from Ukraine, Russia, Germany, the UK, Australia, Malaysia, and the United States are working at an undisclosed Dutch Safety Board headquarters in The Hague. These aircraft safety investigators are sorting through an enormous amount of flight recorder data and related “black-box” information to ascertain what destroyed the Boeing 777-200, operating as flight MH17 on June 17.
Wim van der Wegen from the Dutch Safety Board says they already have enough to prepare a preliminary report. “We are using the voice recorder, the black box flight data recorder, satellite images, information from air traffic control and photos taken by people, who were able to visit crash site.”
Dutch Safety Board officials expect to publish the preliminary report of the MH17 aircraft safety investigators’ findings within two weeks. It is anticipated that the Dutch preliminary report will not attribute blame or liability.
From the moment the first remains were repatriated, the Dutch authorities say they have focused on restoring the honor and dignity that was stolen from the families and friends of the 298 loved ones on board Malaysia Airlines flight MH17.
Bringing the perpetrators to justice would help to heal a wound that has cut deep into Dutch society.
As the Dutch continue their MH17 incident investigation, and as the Malaysians and Australians continue their MH370 search investigation, some family members are facing financial hardship.
Entire families—parents and their children—were among those killed on flights MH17 and MH370, and others were the surviving family’s primary financial support base.
Without a body, remains or an official death certificate, next-of-kin face undue financial duress to collect on personal life insurance policies, to close credit card accounts, or to deal with banks so as to retire student debts or mortgages, says The Wall Street Journal.
To mitigate against financial distress, Dutch prosecutors have submitted documents to a special court in The Hague to initiate an issuance of a ‘blanket death certificate’ to cover all those who perished aboard MH17.
June 16, 2014 marks the 100th day, since MH370’s Boeing 777-200 airliner disappeared with 239 people on board. First cash advances for the families of passengers on board missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 have been confirmed.
One Chinese family along with six Malaysian families received the first compensations of $50,000.
Under the Montreal Convention, ratified in 1992, relatives of MH370 passengers and crew parished are entitled to claim up to $176,000 per missing passenger and crew. Malaysia Airlines has initiated a process of compensation to grieving families of MH370 passengers and crew lost. Malaysia Airlines has paid $5,000 to the family of each MH370 passenger and crew lost to cover immediate travel expenses. Malaysia Airlines have now disbursed an additional $50,000 to a small number of families, including one Chinese and six Malaysian.
Malaysia Airlines has announced it was offering $5,000 in emergency financial assistance to the next-of-kin of all the 298 passengers and crew on board flight MH17, and of all the 239 passengers and crew on board flight MH370.
In addition, the air carrier announced on August 15, the firm had paid this money to a “majority” of families without releasing specific numbers of people, who received the funds, citing privacy issues.
Under international law and treaties, the families of those killed in an aircraft accident have the right to collect at least $70,000 from the airline responsible for the flight, and perhaps much more compensation, if the airline is proven to be negligent in some matter, reports The Wall Street Journal.
News of accidents humbles us into acknowledging that, if life is as fragile as this, if we really have no guarantee that there are decades left ahead, then we don’t want to be people, who spend an afternoon arguing with a beloved, who refused to forgive a friend for a minor transgression, or who neglected a genuine talent in favor of an unhappy sinecure [e.g. easy ride, plum job, or soft option]. The thought of [the dual-crisis of MH370 and MH17] has the power to rearrange our priorities, returning to the surface the more valuable parts of us, which have a tendency to get submerged in the everyday struggles.” – Alain de Botton (2014)
Most compelling mystery in aviation safety and security history
There is an old adage in flying and landing a Boeing 777: aviate, navigate,communicate.
This ongoing mystery is about how we globally aviate, navigate and communicate across safer and secure skies of international aviation. That is, safer skies over Asia, safer skies over Australia, safer skies over Africa, safer skies over Europe, and safer skies over The Americas.
There are now international efforts involving Australia and Malaysia, each spending US$60 million, and including China, underway sending ships and aircraft to cast the widest net to locate any wreckage and debris, given an “about-face” of Malaysia 370’s flight route hundreds of miles off course, according to Malaysian military radar. Search and rescue missions, spanning the Gulf of Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysian Coast, and the South China Sea, have been launched along the now officially settled and estimated flight track into the southern Indian Ocean of the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200ER aircraft, .
“This is now the greatest aviation security mystery in aviation history,” I stated only four days later on March 12, 2014 to Government Security News, and the following day on March 13, 2014 to Fox News Hannity and Los Angeles CBS Radio 10.70 – KNX Business Hour.
March 16, 2015 also marks a year, since the MH370 story broke internationally, and especially 24/7 on CNN International (see “CNN Coverage Mirrors LinkedIn Buzz on MH370,” as featured May 16, 2014 on LinkedIn Pulse Airlines & Aviation, Media, and Social Media Channels).
Photo Credit: Reuters. Under fire: Malaysia Airlines’ commercial director Hugh Dunleavy (center) speaks to journalists about information on flight MH370 in Beijing, China, the day after it disappeared.
The Missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 Mystery is most compelling in international commercial passenger airline history, mainly because of the 758 lives lost in the Southeast Asia region in the past year, which is the highest number of aircraft crash fatalities from within a single geographical region in a single year in about six and half decades of international commercial passenger air travel.
The MH370 aviation tragedy is compounded in just six months by the safety disaster of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH17’s Boeing 777-200ER shot down near Donetsk (Ukraine) on July 17, 2014 with 283 passengers and 15 Malaysia Airlines crew members on board.
Moreover, we have been reminded of the MH370 mystery six months henceforward by additional deep water safety disaster events in the Southeast Asia region, including a submerged Airbus A320-200, flown as AirAsia QZ8501, which crashed into the Java Sea during a monsoon-like thunderstorm early Sunday morning on December 28, 2014 during a brief flight from Indonesian city of Surabaya to Singapore, killing all 162 passengers and AirAsia crew on board.
The doomed airliner, while cruising along its flight path en route from Surabaya to Singapore, lost contact with Indonesian air traffic control, four minutes after the flight crew received permission to climb from 32,000 feet (9,753 meters) to 38,000 feet (11,582 meters) to evade monsoon-like heavy thunderstorms, according to Indonesia officials.
Photo Credit: TVBS TAIWAN / AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE (AFP) / GETTY IMAGES. Final moments of TransAsia Airways flight GE235 Regional ATR 72-212A airliner clipping a bridge and hitting a taxi before crashing into the Keelung River in Taipei.
French-built TransAsia Avions de Transport Regional ATR-72-212A, registration B-22816 and Manufacturing Serial Number MSN 1141, performing as TransAsia Airways flight GE-235 from Taipei Songshan to Kinmen (a small resort island near the coast of Taiwan) with 53 passengers and 5 TransAsia Airways flight crew on board, departed Songshan’s runway 10, upon which the airliner was involved in an accident early Wednesday morning, February 4, 2015 at around 10:45 am (local time).
GE235. Mayday, Mayday. Engine flameout.”
Rescuers scrambled to pull survivors from the submerged wreck of the ATR-72-212A twin-engine turboprop aircraft, which went down shortly after takeoff from the Taiwanese capital.
Photo Credit: WALLY SANTANA/ASSOCIATED PRESS. Emergency personnel try to extract passengers from the plane on Wednesday morning.
Human factors do matter 9 out of 10 times in engaging advanced technology, including the education and global public understanding of it. Such current aviation safety and security incidents further underscore these human factors, as either crash landing an Asiana 214 Boeing 777 into San Francisco, back on July 6, 2013, or a “search and rescue” and a “search for a cause” mission of a Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777-200 suddenly lost from radar at 35,000 feet and 40 minutes into flight on March 8, 2014.
Our most compelling mystery in aviation safety and security history remains an ongoing and essential approach to discussing advanced aviation technology and education, as well as, considering the public understanding of science and technology, and most of all, facilitating the diverse cultural participation among aviation safety and security global workforce experts working through the aftermath investigation of an airplane crash.
Hopefully and prayerfully lives can be saved in the future after the cause of this aviation safety and security breach is determined.
Road Map to Global Flight-Tracking Standards 2014, as chronicled in Aviation Week.
March 8 • MH370 disappears from radar over the Gulf of Thailand en route from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia to Beijing, China.
March 31- April 2 • International Air Transport Association (IATA) convenes Operations Conference in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and creates Aircraft Tracking Task Force (ATTF) to focus on identifying near-term options for global tracking of aircraft, including a concept of operations (Conops).
May 12-13 • International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) holds Special Meeting for Global Flight Tracking in Montreal, Canada, and reaches consensus to track all airline aircraft. • IATA agrees to early voluntary implementation; ICAO to develop standards in parallel, while developing global standard on a parallel track.
May 26-27 • International Telecommunications Union (ITU) holds Expert Dialogue on real-time monitoring of flight data in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. • ITU asked to provide necessary spectrum allocations for emerging flight-data monitoring needs and work with ICAO to implement it.
June 11-13 • IATA ATTF holds first formal meeting and launches effort to define current state of flight-tracking with member and non-member airlines, air navigation service providers.
September • IATA ATTF to present preliminary Conops for global flight-tracking to ICAO in Montreal, Canada.
December • IATA communicates ATTF findings to member airlines.
2015 February• ICAO held high-level safety meeting in Montreal, Canada, approved Conops from ATTF, and moved forward in developing a global flight-tracking standard.
2016 • ICAO to publish global flight-tracking standards.
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