Monday, July 13, 2015

Mystery of MH 370

1.1 Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 (MH370) was a scheduled international passenger flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing that lost contact with air traffic control on 8 March 2014 at 01:20 about an hour after takeoff. At 07:24, Malaysia Airlines (MAS) reported the flight missing. The aircraft, a Boeing 777-200ER, was carrying 12 Malaysian crew members and 227 passengers from 14 nations. There has been no confirmation of any flight debris and no crash site has been found (Wikipedia 2014).

Malaysia Airlines released the names and nationalities of the 227 passengers and 12 crew members, based on the flight manifest and later modified to include two Iranian passengers travelling on stolen passports. 152 of the 227 passengers were Chinese citizens, 38 passengers were Malaysian. The remaining passengers were from 13 different countries. All 12 crew members were Malaysian citizens, which the flight's captain was 53 year old Zaharie Ahmad Shah and he joined MAS in 1981 and had 18,365 hours of flying experience. On the other hand, the first officer was 27 year old Fariq Abdul Hamid, employed since 2007 with 2,763 flying hours and this was Fariq's first flight as a fully qualified Boeing 777 first officer (Wikipedia 2014).

1.2 MH370 Disappearance

The airline loses contact with the plane after about an hour after takeoff and there is no distress signal and weather is clear at the time. MH370 was flying in good weather conditions and disappeared without any warning. Flight tracking website shows plane flew northeast over Malaysia after takeoff and climbed to altitude of 35,000 feet. The flight vanished from website's tracking records a minute later while still climbing and Malaysia search ships see no sign of wreckage in area where flights last made contact (Best 2014).

The news on the missing MH370 has travel fast and within minutes the whole world has gotten to know about it. Malaysia has been receiving help from numerous of counting in the search of the missing MH370. Helps has been received in many forms. The search has gotten widened after Malaysia's civil aviation announces that the search area will double to cover a larger area of the Gulf of Thailand between Malaysia and Vietnam. The area of search for the missing aircraft expands to 27,000 nautical square miles covering the South China Sea and Strait of Malacca, with a total of 12 countries participating in the operation. There are a total of 42 ships and 39 aircraft currently involved in the multinational search (Best 2014).

At the peak, before the search was moved to the south Indian Ocean, 26 countries were involved in the search, contributing a total of nearly 60 ships and 50 aircraft. In addition to the above, although Sri Lanka did not participating, they have given the permission for the search aircraft to use its airspace (Best 2014).

2.0 Four Acceptability of the Claim

2.1 The Doppler Effect Analysis

To the missing MH370 situation, Malaysian investigation has set up an international working group, comprising agencies with expertise in satellite communications and aircraft performance, which is the British Satellite Company Inmarsat in order to take this work forward. As a result, Inmarsat has used such technique as the Doppler Effect. Doppler Effect is a technique which describes how a wave changes frequency relative to the movement of an observer, in this MH370 case is the satellite (Chapree 2014). According to the news, in recent days Inmarsat has developed a second innovative technique which considers the velocity of the aircraft relative to the satellite. Depending on this relative movement, the frequency received and transmitted will differ from its normal value (Chapree 2014).

For example, when a vehicle with a siren passes, there is a noticeable drop in the pitch of the sound of the siren will be observed as the vehicle passes. An approaching source moves closer during period of the sound wave so the effective wavelength is shortened, giving a higher pitch since the velocity of the wave is unchanged (Chapree 2014). To this case, same goes to the satellite which Inmarsat has been looking at day and night, that is where they are hearing sounds of the wavelength. MH370 could be detected from here.

The senior vice president of Inmarsat has explained that there is a change in frequency due to the movement of a satellite in its orbit and what that then gave them was a predicted path for the northerly route and a predicted path the southerly route. He continued that it is never done before and his engineers came up with it as a unique contribution (Chapree 2014).

By analyzing this effect, Inmarsat was able to establish that MH370 continued to fly for at least five hours after the aircraft left Malaysian airspace, and that it had flown along one of two stated corridors. What they discovered was there is a correlation with the southerly route and not with the northern route after the final turn that MH370 has made, to this they could be as close to certain as anybody could be in that situation that it went south. The plane was also reportedly flying at a cruising height above 30,000 feet.

2.2 Analyzing the hourly pings

As mentioned, Inmarsat’s role in the search for Malaysian Airlines flight MH370 began immediately after it went disappeared. Although the main Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) was switched off, one of Inmarsat’s satellites continued to pick up a series of hourly pings from MH370, which would normally be used to synchronize timing information (Anthony 2014). The ping utility may be executed with various command line switches to enable special operational modes. For example, options include specifying the area of the search, automatic repeated operation for sending a specified count of searches of MH370 and time stamping. To this Inmarsat is able to read of how many pings has been made throughout the hours.

Inmarsat then immediately began doing calculations based on a series of hourly pings as MH370 and one of the company's satellites tried to communicate with each other. Analyzing those pings seems to have given Inmarsat a good idea of where the plane went and along one of two routes, to the north and to the south (Anthony 2014). About three hours after Flight MH370 went missing, Inmarsat began tracking the Boeing 777. Every hour, Inmarsat's satellites would try to communicate with MH370, pinging it with a computerized questions. For several hours, Flight MH370 has responded, notifying engineers on the ground with a handshake that the plane was still powered up and ongoing. Using that series of pings, Inmarsat engineers and other analysts were able to detect where MH370 could have been located when it last communicated with the satellite (Anthony 2014). Hourly pings sent by MH370 were received by Inmarsat's spacecraft and these leading scientists to calculate its likely path.

The senior vice president of Inmarsat again has said that his engineers have looked at the time between the handshakes and they realized that the object was not stationary under a satellite but moving away from it. By analyzing these pings, Inmarsat was able to detect that MH370 has been flying for a few hours after it departs from Malaysia and that it had flown along on the south. It was known that this type of analysis was never before used in an investigation of this kind of situation and the Inmarsat believe that they could be able to shed more light on MH370’s flight path (Anthony 2014).

2.3 The Burst Frequency Offset

The Inmarsat technique analyses the difference between the frequency that the ground station expects to receive and that actually measured. This difference is the actually result of the Doppler Effect and is known as the Burst Frequency Offset. The Burst Frequency Offset changes depending on the location of the aircraft on an arc of possible positions, its direction of travel and its speed (Arthur 2014). For example, in order to establish confidence in its theory, Inmarsat did not only sed the findings on MH370 but they has checked its predictions using information obtained from six other B777 aircraft flying on the same day in various directions.

Looking back to the day the plane went missing, while on the ground at the Malaysia Airport and during the early stage of the flight, MH370 has transmitted several messages. At this stage the location of the aircraft and the satellite were known and so it was possible to calculate system characteristics for the aircraft, satellite and the ground station (Arthur 2014). During the flight the ground station logged the transmitted and received pulse frequencies at each handshake. Knowing the system characteristics and position of the satellite it was possible, considering aircraft performance to determine where on each arc the calculated burst frequency offset fit best (Arthur 2014).

The analysis showed poor correlation with the northern corridor, but good correlation with the southern corridor and depending on the ground speed of the aircraft it was then possible to estimate positions, at which the last complete handshake took place (Arthur 2014). To this, it was not known to be the final position of the MH370.

On the other hand, there is evidence of a partial handshake between MH370 and the ground station. At this time this transmission is not understood and is subject to further ongoing work. No response was received from MH370 when the ground earth station sent the next log on or log off message. Therefore, there was a time that MH370 was no longer able to communicate with the ground station and this is consistent with the maximum endurance of MH370 (Arthur 2014). This analysis by Inmarsat has formed the basis for further study to attempt to determine the final position of MH370. By analyzing The Burst Frequency Offset, Inmarsat was able to detect that MH370 has been flying for a few hours after it departs and that it had flown along on the south.

2.4 The Usefulness of High-Technology

Several breakthroughs have concluded MH370’s wreckage is finally located somewhere in the southern Indian Ocean. As known throughout the world, the military technology is being utilized in the search effort. Example of the military technology is the satellites, the maritime patrol aircraft, the naval ships and commercial vessels and the radar system. This military technology used has so far been the best high technology equipped to lead the search efforts, with huge expanses of ocean and land to search, along with treacherous conditions in the southern Indian Ocean (Turnbull 2014).

The first high technology equipped used is the maritime patrol aircraft. Since day one, navies from across Southeast Asia have deployed maritime aircraft in order to find the MH370 and any possible survivors. Malaysia and Vietnam both sent out search aircraft in the initial phases to scour the Gulf of Thailand, where it was initially thought the aircraft went down. Soon the United Satets Navy P-3 Orion Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA), full of advanced sensors and electronics joined the search (Turnbull 2014). The US Navy has been using one of its newest and most advanced assets, the P-8 Poseidon, which only began flying operational missions last year. The P-8 Poseidon is kitted out with infrared and night-vision sensors, on board radar to detect ships and small vessels and advanced magnetic anomaly detection (MAD) system which can detect submarines underwater (Turnbull 2014).

The second high tech equipped is the used of the naval ships and commercial vessels. If the wreckage of MH370 is ever found it will be ships rather than satellites and from the result, both naval and civilian ships have already played a vital role in the search and that is set to continue in the days and weeks ahead (Turnbull 2014).. For example, the US Navy has used at least two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers in the search, a platform which utilizes highly advanced underwater sensors for anti-submarine warfare. The ships are also equipped with two SH-60 Sea Hawk helicopters which have enabled a wider search area to be covered (Turnbull 2014).

Another high technology used is the radar system. Radar is possibly the most secretive of all military assets used during the search for MH370. When there were suggestions that MH370 could have flown to Central Asia, speculation was widespread as to how MH370 could have flown through several nations without triggering air defenses and being intercepted by the military aircraft (Turnbull 2014).. The stated radar system has given the best help in justifying the missing MH370.

Although the missing body could have not been found yet, but these high technology tools have certainly help in the search of the missing MH370.

2.5 Steps in evaluating the acceptability of a claim

As the search for the missing MH370 has been dragging, the officials are using advanced technology to look for any sign of the plane. First step of all, technologies has been playing the most important role in this searching mode. With the technology that has been improving a lot for the past several years, situation like the missing MH370 could be found using the technologies however it would take some time. The analysis used in findings MH370 has helped the world to justify the missing MH370. Although the announcement leads to the emotional scenes from the passengers' grieving families but it has put an end to all kind of fears and worries.

The second step is how far and how good the Inmarsat's satellites is keeping contact with MH370. Inmarsat has been trying to communicate with MH370 from time to time on hourly basis, pinging it with a computerized such questions asking how the plane is doing. For the first few hours, pinging has been answered but later on has been found that MH370 has keeping it quiet without any further notice (Sandle 2014). This has given wonder and worries to the Inmarsat team and having such, analyzing and searching been done in order to find the outcome to such wonder.

The third step is, upon following the extensive search the minister confirmed that this search will be a continuous effort with the operation entering a new phase to the larger area of the ocean floor. According to the leads obtained from the Inmarsat, MH370 is likely to have crashed thousands of miles away in the southern Indian Ocean. To this Malaysia with the collaboration of Inmarsat are preparing for a new phase and the dedicated vessels from Australia, Malaysia and China will continue the maritime operations on the ocean (Curtis 2014). These activities will include analysis of all available data to refine the best search area and steps are currently being taking on in order to conclude an arrangement that would identify the responsibilities for all aspects of the search and the recovery task (Curtis 2014).

Other than that, a plan was also discussed for a refocused subsurface search as part of the arrangements to the change to a new phase in the search for MH370 and reconfirmed the ongoing military technology. The analysis on the Doppler Effect Analysis and the hourly pings could broaden the search even more (Sandle 2014). It is known that the positive nature of the joint communications among countries will continue to maintain this strong collaborative approach in the future and with this Malaysia has been receiving many helps from all over the world (Sandle 2014).

Last but not least, upon the development and outcome of the search operation, the families of the passengers and crew and the general public will continue to be updated on. On the new phase, an expert satellite working group had been working for eight weeks and they had reviewed and refined all existing information to define the search zone along the arc in the southern Indian Ocean.


The authorities have concluded that MH370 has ended in the southern area of the Indian Ocean. As a result from the findings position of the satellite, the information was used to generate possible positions from which the northern and southern corridors were established (Curtis 2014). Given the location which was described as very remote and nowhere near any possible landing sites, they believed that MH370 has gone in the said area together with all crew members and passengers on board. This conclusion was based on a set of data from the British Satellite Company Inmarsat which was processed using a method as a type of analysis never before used in an investigation of this sort. The new analysis described was convincing enough in order to make the announcement that MH370 flew along the southern corridor and that its last position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean which is at the west of Perth.

Despite the major breakthrough, the story of MH370 is actually still far from over as the massive search and rescue operation has now turned into a recovery operation with an emphasis on MH370’s remains as well as its black box. Furthermore, the investigators still need to find out why MH370 move away from its original flight path and ended up in a remote area of the Indian Ocean.

No comments:

Post a Comment