Macabre fixation with a missing plane

Sorry to diverge to this again today but the Sydney Morning Domain has taken its macabre fascination with the missing Malaysian aeroplane to bizarre new heights today (pun intended):


That’s a bit overdone, no?

David Llewellyn-Smith


  1. migtronixMEMBER

    Its not a fixation its a distraction:
    President Barack Obama sought to encourage Chinese criticism of Russia on Ukraine, while Chinese President Xi Jinping pressed Obama about a reported U.S. breach of the servers of China’s largest phone-equipment maker, as the leaders met today.

    During their talks in the Netherlands while attending the Nuclear Security Summit, Obama also raised concerns about China holding up visas for U.S. news organizations and told Xi he wants the U.S., China and other Asian nations to resolve competing claims in the South China Sea to ease tensions there.

      • Wrong! It’ll be sentence reversed, a deep apology from the Judge and a taxpayer hand-out to defray his legal costs. Then a triumphant exit from the Court to the cheers of Labor Party hacks and union leader thugs & criminals.

        Aussie justice – a wonder to behold..

  2. Totally agree. I did a double take when I first looked at their homepage this morn!

    Note to SMH ed – not everyone is ‘amazed’ by this ‘mystery’. Plane went off course and crashed. Humans take ages to find it. Seems we are not as sharp is we like to think we are.

    It was funny how the Oz media was mocking of Malaysian head scratching in the early stages of the search – major dog whistle stuff. Now they’ve got their tails between their legs when it’s Oz’s turn to scratch our head cos we can’t quite find it.

    • “Note to SMH ed – not everyone is ‘amazed’ by this ‘mystery’. Plane went off course and crashed. Humans take ages to find it. Seems we are not as sharp is we like to think we are.”

      Yep. And I’d add “Oceans are really big.”

    • A straight line to where ?
      After the last radar contact over the straits, where would one assume it had gone in a straight line.
      West, east, south, north in a straight line ?

      And why at that time would you even assume it was on auto pilot, not to mention, auto pilots are not restricted to flying in a straight line anyway. Significant numbers of airports and planes now have the technology to land the plane on auto pilot and in some places it is the preferred way.

      The fact is today the level of auto pilot technology is such the plane could take off, fly the route to where ever with any number of course corrections and land without human intervention.

      Commercial aircraft have transponders. They don’t use active radar systems. Civilian air traffic control do not use active radar anymore. Thats pretty much limited to the military. You turn off a planes transponders and it is gone from the traffic control scope, which is what happened here.

      The immersat satellite that is one single satellite picked up a handshake communication protocol from a default transponder signal that was still active. It was a handshake only that said “i am ready to communicate” but no actual data was sent. Because it was only received by one it was not possible to triangulate a location. As shown the other day the best they could at the time was project a north or south line of transit for the full duration of flight based on fuel capacity. As shown last night they employed a radical and innovative method of using the change in frequency of the handshake signal based on the Doppler effect and comparing it to the flight profile of other 777 aircraft that allowed them to determine it had gone south and at what altitude it flew and when it dropped off. That theoretical location is very close to where the first satellite pics spotted the debris in the Indian ocean.
      Thats a world first and pretty friggen spectacular they came up with it.

      • migtronixMEMBER

        No taking anything away from the solution, though it’s really not that spectacular it’s what the mil use to identify intrudes etc, but because of all you say shouldn’t a pretty effing obvious redundancy be track a flight path the second after it fails to send a ping? I mean I know Boeing are cheap but how much can that redundancy cost?

      • Doppler or pulse Doppler radar have been around for years, for weather and military use. But thats what they are designed for. These guys take a handshake signal lasting maybe 1 or 2 sec, analyse the frequency shift then calculate backwards based on other 777 flight profiles to come up with the answer. This system was never designed to be used that way. Thats what makes them stand out on this one.

        It is normal procedure that when a civilian aircraft enters or exits specific areas of airspace it will change/turn off the transponder to a new frequency for the different airspace it is entering so it can be seen by the traffic control system whose jurisdiction it is entering. It is also not uncommon for transponder signals to be intermittently lost due to interference.

        Malaysian airlines like all other operators of 777 had the option of a upgrade to a satellite tracking signal that could not be turned off, and would have allowed permanent tracking in flight. It would have cost 10 dollars per flight.

        Whales are easily tracked in the middle of the ocean because they cannot turn their active transponders off. If their transponders are damaged then you don’t track anything.

      • migtronixMEMBER

        One more question: how does the communication system go down? Aren’t there redundancies and feedback systems for precisely such a scenario? Why doesn’t it happen more often? Or does it happen more often but Boeing chooses not tell anyone?

        How many Reapers of Global Hawks are lost because of communications problems?

        I still have lots of questions…

        EDIT: NOTE TO SELF – fly Airbus only from now on…

      • I dont have enough knowledge to provide any insight into that.

        In this case the only thing that was left transmitting was something that could not be deliberately turned off. You can make from that what you will.

        The Rolls Royce engine manufacturer installs sensor transmitters in the engines to transmit real time operating information directly back to rolls Royce via satellite. The data stream sent via the engine transmitter was turned off for what ever reason, but from what i have read you cant turn off the handshaking signal, which is what was picked up by the monitoring satellites.

  3. They divert their efforts into stories that get the most eyeballs in the hope of getting even more.

    Guessing you guys check the stats on a regular basis. Surely MB does something along those lines too? It’s a decent strategy.

      • Haha, that’s a given.

        But can you get the local Bondi RE agent to make broad sweeping generalisations about the housing market in Sydney? And then encourage him to extrapolate it out for the rest of Australia?

        Checkmate MB. Checkmate.

  4. It’s amazing that a pollie can be sentenced to prison for corrupt dealings and it is merely a blip on the radar (pardon the pun!).

  5. If that’s what their readership want to read about, can you blame them?

    The decision must have come from tracking stats of previous stories. And they most likely attracted the most hits.

  6. rob barrattMEMBER

    The SMD is a bit behind the ball. The Sunday Sport already had it nailed:

    I admit to having a small problem with the fact that the number of engines has appeared to have doubled, but I trust the media. I mean, look at the way yet another expert told us on ABC news “This is called a debris trail, the rest of the aircraft will actually be on the bottom”. Oh Dear……

  7. Reminds me of the bond film, ‘Tomorrow Never Dies’…

    Plane goes missing, media mogul found to have planned the entire thing… The way the world is going I wouldn’t count anything out.

    Anything to sell subscriptions and get website hits.

  8. This will turn in to a PR/business case study for ‘how not to ‘ as Malaysia has handled this so badly the airline might not recover. A Thai mate of mine has says its an indictment of Malaysia’s crony government where all the incompetent people are preferred.