May 272014
 

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Raw satellite data of the whereabouts of missing Malaysia Airlines flight 370 has been released Tuesday, a Malaysian official said.

All expert analyses so far, despite the conspiracy theories about the historical aviation safety mishap, generally speaking, point towards the March 24, 2014 official statement of Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak that flight MH370 ended its journey inside the southern Indian Ocean.

Photo Credit: CNN, Inmarsat CEO, Rupert Pearce

Photo Credit: CNN, Inmarsat CEO, Rupert Pearce

Once independent analyses settle the Doppler effect question inside British satellite company Inmarsat’s predicted and measured findings, such widespread re-analyses will reasonably re-confirm Inmarsat’s science and engineering and the Malaysian official statement that MH370 is somewhere in the mountainous and hazardous southern Indian Ocean. Here is when the commercial contractors — who will be taking over the deep sea unmanned vehicles search for MH370 after the government procurement process is completed months away — will play a huge role in uncovering the resting place of the missing Boeing 777-200 airliner.

Just as important, major airlines and international aviation organizations now are officially calling for real-time tracking and data streaming for commercial aircraft in the aftermath of MH370, now missing for nearly three months. Most of all, airliners are finally advocating cost is not a concern.

Altogether, these are exceptional and extraordinary public-sector and private-sector governance events going in the proper future directions for international aviation safety and security.

Malaysia’s Ministry of Transport has published a 47-page article, containing hundreds of lines of communication logs between the jetliner and the British company Inmarsat’s satellite system, and detailing how the U.K. firm Inmarsat helped to pinpoint the southern corridor flight path taken by MH370.

The data and information disclosed does not provide the complete picture. However, it is “intended to provide a readable summary of the data communication logs,” the notes at the start of the article point out.

Some passengers’ families, unsatisfied by official explanations of the plane’s fate, say they want an independent analysis of the complex information, a process that could take some time.

The 47-page article reports that Inmarsat informed Malaysia’s Ministry of Transport on March 13, 2014 that routine automatic communications between the Inmarsat satellite and MH370 could be used to determine several possible flight paths.

The United Kingdom (U.K.) Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) then presented Inmarsat’s most recent findings on March 24, 2014, indicating the southern corridor as the most likely flight path of MH370.

March 24, 2014 – Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announcing the ending of flight MH370 at Putra World Trade Center, Kuala Lumpur. 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

March 24, 2014 – Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announcing the ending of flight MH370 at Putra World Trade Center, Kuala Lumpur. 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

Malaysian acting Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein released a statement about the data from Inmarsat, now also released in full completeness by the U.K. satellite communications firm (which is provided for convenience at the bottom of this article).

Transport Minister Hishammuddin Hussein hinted on Monday the MH370 search data would be released to the press on Tuesday, as he toured a newly constructed terminal at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Inmarsat Data Release Squashes Conspiracy Theories for Independent Re-analysis

As we enter the eleventh week of the MH370 search operations, breaking news of the airliner search data release by Malaysian officials, depicting the analysis used by Inmarsat, is a huge victory for the grieving families and friends of the 239 passengers and crew lost on the missing Boeing 777-200 airliner on March 8, 2014.

Additional MH370 search data disclosures widely-anticipated for re-analysis are now available and provided by Inmarsat and Malaysian government officials. Data on flight MH370’s whereabouts was gathered through just eight data “ping handshakes” between the Boeing 777-200 airliner and an Inmarsat satellite, as the aircraft flew off-course for about six hours after the airliner dropped off radar screens. Whereupon, it is now presumed the airliner ran out of fuel and crashed on March 8, 2014.

Photo Credit: Inmarsat, Senior Vice President Chris McLaughlin

Photo Credit: Inmarsat, Senior Vice President Chris McLaughlin

“The ten Inmarsat satellites orbiting Earth were built as part of the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System and have never before been used for this type of mission,” said Inmarsat Senior Vice President, Chris McLaughlin.

Scientists and engineers inside Inmarsat, have used a “groundbreaking yet conventional mathematical series-based theoretical prediction” alongside radar data, Rolls-Royce Trent 800 aircraft engine performance data (featuring real-time monitoring and tracking), and airliner fuel consumption calculations to conclude that the plane landed in a remote corridor of the southern Indian Ocean. Plane wreckage in the mountainous and hazardous southern oceanic corridor has yet to be recovered to support Inmarsat’s analysis.

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Experts have called for release of these eight ping locator signals of “raw handshake data” used by Inmarsat for further independent analysis confirming MH370’s whereabouts. So, we can now all be independently sure upon re-analysis that the international MH370 recovery effort focused in the southern Indian Ocean is indeed substantiated.

Yesterday afternoon, the Malaysian Prime Minister, Najib Razak, announced in a press statement that “the investigation was completed with a never-before-used analysis.”

Photo Credit: University of Durham, Mark Dickinson, as a Ph.D. graduate of high-energy astrophysics

Photo Credit: University of Durham, Mark Dickinson, as a Ph.D. graduate of high-energy astrophysics

Inmarsat’s vice president of satellite operations, Mark Dickinson, said exclusively to CNN he has “good confidence” that experts have interpreted the data correctly.

Inmarsat’s calculations, he said, have been tested by other people.

“No one has come up yet with a reason why it shouldn’t work with this particular flight, when it has worked with others,” Dickinson said. “And it’s very important this isn’t just an Inmarsat activity. There are other people doing investigations, experts who are helping the investigation team, who have got the same data, who made their own models up and did the same thing to see if they got the same results and broadly speaking, they got roughly the same answers.”

Experts came to the conclusion that the plane had ended up in the southern Indian Ocean by piecing together three types of information, Inmarsat’s satellite vice president Mark Dickinson said.

“We have actually the messages from the ground station to the plane and back again. That essentially tells you the terminal is switched on and powered up. We have some timing information and in addition to that there were some frequency measurements,” recounts Dickinson.

The timings informed Inmarsat and Malaysian officials on the distance between the plane and the satellite, enabling them to map out arcs across the oceanic corridors. Then they factored in the eight ping signal frequency differences, determining that the plane had headed south.

Devil is Inside the Details of the Data

International news agencies are now pouring over Malaysian Transport Ministry’s published 47-page article, the analyses of Doppler effect, mathematical trigonometry, orbital geodesy (satellite positioning), geodetic (earth) sciences, and advanced mathematical series equations (including complex statistical regression analyses of flight path data of previous Malaysia Airlines aircraft traveling from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing) that tie together clearer understanding as to the whereabouts of MH370 right now — which is currently believed officially by Malaysian authorities and Inmarsat satellite data analysis experts to be in the southern Indian Ocean.

Photo Credit: The Independent (U.K.)

Photo Credit: The Independent (U.K.)

Once the plane went missing, according to CNN, “the ground station in Perth checked the logs and discovered that while the aircraft’s communications systems were switched off, the plane and the satellite still kept saying “hello” to each other, every hour.”

“Having messages for six hours after the plane is lost is probably the biggest disbelief,” admits Inmarsat’s vice president of satellite operations Mark Dickinson.

“These messages are the raw data upon which everything rests,” CNN explains.

Below is a broad schematic that shows how the general thinking has taken place nearly three months into the international MH370 search.

In the hours after the aircraft disappeared, an Inmarsat satellite positioned 38,000 kilometers above sea level picked up a handful of handshake “pings.” This led investigators to assume the plane continued flying for hours after leaving radar. The assumption also led investigators to pin-point the search towards the southern corridor of the Indian Ocean.

The dense technical data released in the 47-page article on Tuesday details satellite communications from before MH370’s take-off on a Saturday morning at 12:41 a.m. local time (12.41 p.m. ET) to a final, “partial handshake,” according to Reuters, transmitted by the plane at 8:19 a.m. (8.19 p.m. ET). The released data also includes a final transmission from the plane eight seconds later, after which there was no further contact with the Boeing 777-200 airliner.

As an aside, “the data includes a final transmission from the plane eight seconds later, after which there was no further response, as well as two “telephony calls” initiated from the ground at 2:39 a.m. and 7:13 a.m. that went unanswered by the plane,” reports The Independent (U.K.), and “the time of the last satellite contact was consistent with the plane’s fuel capacity.”

Photo Credit: Australian News.com

Photo Credit: Australian News.com

“This is all the data we have for what has happened for those six or so hours,” Inmarsat Satellite Vice President Mark Dickinson told CNN. “It’s important we all get it right, and particularly that everyone looking at the data makes the best judgments on it, and how it’s used. And particularly for the families and friends of the relatives on board, try and make sure that we can help bring this sad incident to a close.”

“We have some timing information … that allows you to essentially work out the distance from the satellite … and in addition to that there were some frequency measurements,” describes Dickinson.

The missing link in all the data resides deep inside the Doppler effect equation. On the one hand, the Doppler effect equation does not shed further light as to the exact whereabouts of MH370’s last known position in space, where the Inmarsat satellite, as the measuring device, originally resided at 38,000 kilometers above sea level. What we can presuppose, on the other hand, from the Doppler effect equation is approximately where MH370 was located and the direction the Boeing 777-200 airliner traveled during its remaining moments.

Air traffic controllers lost touch with the Boeing 777-200 airliner, operating as Malaysia Airlines flight 370 on March 8. Upon this disappearance, the airliner communicated its whereabouts through brief “pings” that indicated that the plane was still flying. Inmarsat satellite detected a handful of these electromagnetic “handshake” signals. The frequency of each “ping” signal changed, as the airliner traveled with respect to the satellite. If Inmarsat scientists and engineers knew the original frequency at which the Boeing 777-200 airliner transmitted its pings, then they could determine the change in frequency, and thus calculate the velocity of the plane with respect to the satellite.

Disappearances of Large Airliners Since 1948

Photo Credit: Bloomberg Visual Data

Photo Credit: Bloomberg Visual Data

Inmarsat scientists and engineers estimated on March 24 the airliner’s crash site to within 100 miles. Inmarsat’s March 24 findings was based on identifying MH370’s final destination, given that the single Inmarsat satellite that detected the airliner’s pings measured the frequency of only eight ping handshakes available. This was tested employing a Doppler effect series of mathematical equations, using known flight paths of previous Malaysia Airlines flights en-route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

As the Inmarsat satellite was orbiting Earth at high speed, several thousands of kilometers above the flying Boeing 777-200 airliner, traveling about 480 nautical miles per hour, Inmarsat scientist and engineers employed complex trigonometry in three-dimensional space.

Consider the satellite positioned 38,000 kilometers above sea level at the top of the sphere at point A, and the Boeing 777-200 airliner flying across the earth’s surface from point B to point C moments after departure from Kuala Lumpur International Airport en-route to Beijing International Airport, operated as flight MH370 on March 8. Inmarsat scientist and engineers hypothetically considered for public release on March 24 numerous angles (A,b,c), distances traveled (a,b,c), and positions (A,B,C,M,N) to predict MH370 Boeing 777-200 airliner’s flight path.

Inmarsat scientists and engineers plotted the airliner’s likely alternate flight path along the southern corridor of the Indian Ocean. By combining the Doppler effect to calculate the Boeing 777-200 airliner’s velocity with respect to the satellite, with the trigonometric analysis mapping out the airliner’s flight path, ultimately, Inmarsat could determine where MH370 likely crashed, upon reaching within the airliner’s Breguet range and emptying its fuel tanks, once the airliner’s fuel consumption limit is reached.

Why are the Inmarsat scientists and engineers confident they have the correct analysis of their determination of the final resting place of MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean?

Using the discrepancy of satellite frequency known as the Doppler Effect, Inmarsat scientist and engineers spent ten days refining their work. There model established oceanic corridor arcs and Doppler readings from rigorously measured data, first from other airliners tracked on their satellite at the same time of travel as MH370, and second against previous Kuala Lumpur to Beijing flights by the same Boeing 777-200 airliner.

Owning to minor discrepancies between prediction and measured findings, Inmarsat concluded after cross checking and re-checking of their work that both the position and the Doppler reading of the aircraft was determined accurately.

Inmarsat confirmed its findings against those of other organizations using independently created models to ran comparisons against the findings of the British satellite firm. Similar conclusions of MH370’s final position in the southern Indian Ocean was determined.

This kind of confirmed analysis performed by the Inmarsat scientists and engineers and other independent organizations turned out to be compelling enough for the Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak, to announce in a press statement on March 24, 2014 that MH370 ended its journey in the southern Indian Ocean.

Independent scientists and engineers worldwide are now already re-engineering and questioning the Doppler effect analysis, mainly because the frequency of any signals transmitted from MH370 are highly dependent upon two highly dubious factors: (1) the airliner’s speed tied to its likely Breguet range, time and direction of travel, and (2) the speed and direction of the satellite measuring the frequency of the MH370 “ping” signals.

Further thoughtful ideas, commentaries, discussions and debate along this lines may be seen at the following:

UPDATE — Read More at The Atlantic, May 8, 2014: Why the Official Explanation of MH370’s Demise Doesn’t Hold Up

UPDATE — Read More at BBC News, March 24, 2014: Missing plane: How did a U.K. firm track the plane?

International Aviation Organizations Call for Real-Time Tracking of Civil Airliners

According to Reuters, major airlines now are calling for real-time tracking for commercial aircraft in the aftermath of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370. Most important, airliners are finally advocating cost is not a concern, a senior official with the United Nations’ aviation agency said on Monday.

The mystery surrounding MH370, which vanished en-route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, has sparked a global call for ‘black-box’ data streaming to ‘the cloud’ that would enable air traffic controllers to pinpoint the exact route and last location of all civil aircraft. A nearly three-month-long international search has so far failed to find any trace of the Boeing 777-200 airliner, operated as Malaysia flight MH370.

mystery_mh370_takeoff

Members of the International Civil Aviation Organization’s (ICAO) governing council “agreed earlier this month on the need for global tracking, although they did not commit to a binding solution or timeline,” according to Reuters.

Instead, the global airline industry group, International Air Transport Association (IATA), “agreed to come up with proposals for better tracking by the end of September. IATA said its members would implement measures voluntarily, before any rules were in place,” reports Reuters.

“In principle the community has agreed. There’s no question this is something we need to do,” Nancy Graham, director of ICAO’s Air Navigation Bureau, told reporters in Kuala Lumpur.

“We are developing the voluntary path and a rule for the future. We intend to have regulation to support that globally.”

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Asked by reporters whether the cost of implementing new standards was a stumbling block for airlines, Graham said: “Not at all, they’re absolutely in solidarity. There’s no price you can put on safety or certainty on where the aircraft are.”

Graham was speaking at the start of a two-day experts’ conference sponsored by Malaysia’s government on real-time monitoring of flight data. The meeting will not decide on flight-tracking reforms, but could generate new proposals.

Experts say the technology to implement real-time data streaming for tracking civil airliners is available and relatively simple.

“As we wait, what everyone in aviation needs to agree on right now is that this must never be allowed to happen again. Millions of us can be located immediately through technology in our handheld cell phones, but a 300,000-pound Boeing 777 with 239 souls on board disappears from the face of the Earth. NASA has the capability of photographing stars billions of light-years away, and yet our best minds are forced to guess where this plane might be,” says Jim Hall, the former head of the National Transportation Safety Board, and Peter Goelz, an aviation analyst and CNN contributor, inside a recent CNN opinion piece.

Photo Credit: CNN, Jim Hall (left) and Getty Images, Peter Goelz

Photo Credit: CNN, Jim Hall (left) and Getty Images, Peter Goelz

“The airline industry has invested billions of dollars in technology that has made flight as incredibly safe as it is today. Yet many allow their aircraft to fall off any direct tracking capability as they fly over vast ocean distances and remote locations, confident that these planes will occasionally check in and reappear as they near the other side of the blacked-out area, opinions Hall and Goetz.”

But some experts continue to raise concerns about data privacy from pilots, aircraft manufacturers and airlines.

Inmarsat Group has offered to provide airlines with tracking at no cost. Rival firms such as Iridium Communications, however, say outfitting a jet with the tracking system could cost more than $100,000, reports Reuters.

Malaysian MH370 search teams and international aviation safety and security investigators suspect someone shut off MH370’s data links, making the plane impossible to track real-time once MH370 fell off of radar, prompting Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak to call for the ICAO to adopt real-time tracking of civilian aircraft to ward-off similar vanishings of massive Boeing 777-200 airliners in the future.

Photo Credit: Times Union Photo by James Goolsby, October 5, 2005, Mark Rosenker, Acting Chairman of the NTSB.

Photo Credit: Times Union Photo by James Goolsby, October 5, 2005, Mark Rosenker, Acting Chairman of the NTSB.

Safety experts, like Mark Rosenker, former chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and a retired U.S. Air Force General, has said to Reuters the latest aviation mishap, along with the loss five years ago of Air France flight 447 in the Atlantic, should spur reform of an antiquated investigation process.

“The availability of even limited data from the ‘black-box’ and cockpit voice recordings could speed up accident inquiries and locate a plane in trouble, if it is beyond the reach of ground-based radar,” Rosenker counseled.

I concurred, inside The Telegraph (U.K.), “Vital flight information would be retrieved, if ‘black-box’ data was automatically stored in ‘the cloud’, and that using the internet to gather and store flight information in real-time would mean that key data would not be lost.” Further telling Reuters that “it is time to move the ‘black-box’ to ‘the cloud’ at least for essential limited flight recorder data for long flights over remote areas.”

“The ‘black-box’ data should not be lost in remote terrains or oceans, but rather should be secured and stored in ‘the cloud’,” I have restated to The Telegraph (U.K.) and ‘Black-Box’ in ‘The Cloud’ means no MH370 again.

“If we are able to transmit Beyonce from the Super Bowl live to millions of people, we should be able to send this sort of data to ‘the cloud’ ” – like Beyonce does instantly now, sending out globally her latest mega-hit recordings!

Next Phase of the Missing MH370 Airliner Search

Solicitation of commercial contractors — who will be taking over the deep sea unmanned vehicles search for MH370, after the government procurement process is completed in a couple of months — is the next phase of the recovery of the missing Boeing 777-200 airliner.

As the MH370 deep sea drone search phase off the coast of Australia concludes, about a half dozen private firms will be solicited to propose possibly taking over the extended deep sea scanning of the southern Indian Ocean, which will likely include extensive deep sea search technologies, such as towed sonar, an autonomous underwater vehicle with mounted sonar and optical imaging equipment, Australian officials said.

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Procuring these specialized private firms and negotiating contracts will not be complete until August. Australian officials have said they want a single private contractor to lead this new phase of scouring over 60,000 square kilometers, costing over $60 million dollars in search of the Boeing 777-200 airliner, now presumed to reside in the southern Indian Ocean, reports CNN International.

For completeness and accuracy of further re-analysis, discussion, and comment, below is Inmarsat’s Press Release.

Malaysian government publishes MH370 details from U.K. Air Accident Investigation Branch

Source: Inmarsat Press Release, May 26, 2014, United Kingdom

Malaysia’s Ministry of Transport has published an article detailing how Inmarsat helped to pinpoint the southern corridor flight path taken by MH370.

It reports that Inmarsat informed them on 13 March that routine automatic communications between the Inmarsat satellite and MH370 could be used to determine several possible flight paths.

The United Kingdom (U.K.) Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) then presented Inmarsat’s most recent findings on 24 March, indicating the southern corridor.

Calculating ‘pings’

The report states that the calculations were made using the automatic ‘pings’ sent to the satellite via the ground station and the aircraft after it vanished.

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It explained that if the ground station does not hear from an aircraft for an hour it will transmit a ‘log on/log off’ message – a ‘ping’ – and the aircraft automatically returns a short message indicating that it is still logged on, a process described as a ‘handshake’.

The ground station log recorded six complete handshakes after ACARS, the aircraft’s operational communications system, stopped sending messages.

Refined analysis

Inmarsat was then able to calculate the range of the aircraft from the satellite, and the time it took the signal to be sent and received, to generate two arcs of possible positions – a northern and a southern corridor.

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The report goes on to explain that Inmarsat developed a second innovative technique that took into account the velocity of the aircraft relative to the satellite and the resulting change in signal frequency, known as the Doppler Effect.

The Inmarsat technique analyzed the difference between the frequency that the ground station expected to receive and the one actually measured, known as the Burst Frequency Offset.

Comparison data

To check its theory, Inmarsat compared its predictions with six other B777 aircraft flying on the same day in various directions, which resulted in a good match.

The analysis fitted well with the southern corridor, according to the report, and depending on the ground speed of the aircraft, it was then possible to estimate positions at 00:11 UTC – when the last complete handshake took place.

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The Malaysian government statement emphasised that the last handshake should not be interpreted as the final position of the aircraft because of evidence of a partial handshake between the aircraft and ground station at 00:19 UTC.

Ground earth station

No response was received from the aircraft at 01:15 UTC, when the ground earth station sent the next log on/log off message, indicating that the aircraft was no longer logged on to the network, it added.

Therefore, at some time between 00:11 UTC and 01:15 UTC the aircraft was no longer able to communicate with the ground station – consistent with the maximum time the aircraft was able to fly, the article concluded.

The Malaysian investigation has now set up an international working group, including agencies with expertise in satellite communications and aircraft performance, to take this work forward.

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