Watching the news on Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 vanished early Saturday with 239 people on board during a flight between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing, makes us the technical guys wonder how could such an advance widebody aircraft could be lost.
Now the search is moved to a location that was not on the aircraft’ flight plan. On Wednesday, officials announced they had once again expanded the search area. It now covers 27,000 square miles, more than double the size of the area being searched just a day before.
The odd part is that the Boeing 777 has (or should have) one of the best automated digital communication systems that not only sends departure arrival data, but takeoff & cruise performance data, system malfunctions reporting and automated position reporting. All this data are transmitted to selected ground base, i.e. Malaysia Airlines operations or Dispatch Control Center without any pilot input. Its sort of like SMS messing that is linked thru communication satellite(s) or VHF or HF (short-wave) ground stations that cover the entire world’s air traffic systems.
In addition, this aircraft is equipped with Emergency Locator Transmitters (ELT) that upon impact should send beacon signal or digital positioning report thru satellite communication systems.
Now 42 ships and 39 planes from 12 countries have been searching the sea between the northeast coast of Malaysia and southwest Vietnam, the area where the plane lost contact with air traffic controllers.
So why is it that this large nd heavy aircraft cannot be located for 5 days now ?! Even the Air France 447 that plunged into the Atlantic Ocean back in June 2009, didn’t take more than a day or 2 to locate, mostly because of all the automated digital communications that were sent to Air France Operations Center.
Well at this point, our minds can go crazy with all kinds of speculations. Maybe there was an explosion that dismantled the automated communication system right away ?, but such explosion cannot be unnoticed by people on ground nor by satellites. Did the pilots dive to below radar tracking range and turn off the air traffic control and communication reporting systems to steal the aircraft ? ! … or many other bad scenarios we can think of. But who knows what will actually be the final outcome.
All we can do is to hope for safety of the 227 passengers and 12 crew who are missing, and our thoughts and prayers should go to their families and loved ones.
Admin1 – ATC