MH370 Searching In the Wrong Place Never Helps the Search

MH370It is increasingly unlikely that the missing Malaysian Air Flight MH370 will ever be found because it is beginning to look like searchers have been searching in the wrong place all along. Ever since the news first broke about the missing jumbo jet, there have been strange twists and turns to the story, including leads evaporate after a few days, only to be resurfaced a few days later as one enterprising reporter after another finds a new spin for the story.

Reporters hate stories like this, stories that never go away, mysteries that never get solved because there are just so many ways that you can say that the story is still unresolved. Take a quick look at the ways in which the MH370 story has become a soap opera version of itself.

First, there were the pilots, two upstanding, responsible aviators with excellent records, both Muslims, which is only to be expected since they were flying for an airline for a Muslim country. Investigations into the backgrounds of the two pilots disclosed that one of them had a very sophisticated flight training system in his home, which might have been just thing for planning a hijacking….or it might also have been an aid for a conscientious pilot practicing landings on runways with which he was not very familiar.

Those leads petered out because there was nowhere to go from there. The plane was still missing.

The passenger list was scoured, looking for signs of terrorist sympathizers on the manifest. None was found.

Questions were raised about whether the last communication from the aircraft came before or after the autopilot was turned off. There was also a question of whether the transponders were turned off before or after that final radio transmission. Questions were raised about the plane’s erratic flight path. There were indications that the plane may have exceeded its operating ceiling, and what might have happened on the aircraft at that point is open to question.

Much ado was made about the “seven pings” which trackers use to determine what the aircraft did after the transponders were turned off. When the pings were analyzed, they pointed to two diametrically opposite conclusions. One conclusion was that the planed turned south, diverting from its original flight plan and heading out on a course that would eventually take it into the empty depths of the South Indian Ocean. The other conclusion was that the plane continued on its original flight path toward Beijing, China, which would have put it pretty much where some people are now saying that it has ended up.

The Malaysian government, in concert with the other nations involved, concentrated the search in the area southwest of Australia in the South Indian Ocean, ignoring the possibility that the plane might have continued on its original trajectory. After 58 days of constant day in and day out searching, investigators have failed to come up with a single piece of material from the missing aircraft.

In the meantime, an Australian firm claims to have found evidence of a downed commercial aircraft 100 miles off the beaches of Bangladesh, along the original flight plan that Flight MH370 was supposed to follow. The announcement has met with widespread skepticism because the location of the submerged aircraft. if there really is one down there, doesn’t agree with the preconceived notions of the countries involved in the investigation.

The company involved, GeoResonance Technology, is a well-known, highly successful resource survey company that makes a business out of finding things under the ground and in deep waters. This is what they do, but no one wants to admit that a company that wasn’t even in on the search might have found what the militaries of several different nations have not been able to find because just maybe they have not been looking in the right place.

Here is the bottom line: If the plane was hijacked for some nefarious purpose, the last place the hijackers would have flown that aircraft would have been the South Indian Ocean because there is no place to land there. If the pilots and crew were disabled through some mechanical malfunction having to do with the air supply system, they probably would have tried to turn back to Kuala Lumpur, which would have put them on the trajectory that could have taken them in to the South Indian Ocean. The fact that the plane descended to 12,000 feet might have been an indication that something went wrong with the air supply on the aircraft and the pilots were attempting save the aircraft by descending to the lower altitudes where human beings can breathe….but in none of these cases would the aircrew have maintained radio silence. On the contrary, they would have been screaming their heads off for help, contacting the Kuala Lumpur traffic control and begging for help.

Maybe GeoResonance is right, and the remains of Flight MH370 are sitting on the floor of the ocean 100 miles off the shores of Bangladesh, but we are never going to know for sure….unless someone goes and takes a look, something that could be quite easily done, if only to eliminate the possibility that GeoResonance is right.

What is so very, very odd about the whole case, however, is how much the Malaysian government does not want to talk about. Their own military radar systems “lost” flight MH370 as the plane flew over Malaysia, a fact to which they only admitted two days ago, but one that argues the plane was heading in a southerly direction.

The Malaysian government has recently admitted that they have exhausted the military alternatives and will be private contractors to continue the search. By the time they are done, the will have spent upwards of $100 million on this search, all to find an aircraft that is certainly down somewhere, and passengers who are almost certainly dead.

This is the reason that no one can stop looking for MH370, or writing about it. The behavior of this particular aircraft was so unusual that we, and that means everyone, wants an answer that makes sense. The problem is that, when you are looking for a needle in a haystack, and the haystack is as big as the Bay of Bengal or the South Indian Ocean, a good place to start is by looking under the right haystack.

Commentary by Alan M. Milner
Look for me on Twitter:@alanmilner

Air Traffic Management
CBS News


One Response to "MH370 Searching In the Wrong Place Never Helps the Search"

  1. Luc Devincke   April 29, 2014 at 11:44 pm

    “In the meantime, an Australian firm claims to have found evidence of a downed commercial aircraft 100 miles off the beaches of Bangladesh, along the original flight plan that Flight MH370 was supposed to follow” Mr Milner has to look on a map to find out where Bangladesh and the Gulf of Bengal are situated. So he would know that it is very very far from the flight path it should have followed


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.