Latest MH370 Report Remains Inconclusive

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Despite an international effort to discover why Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 crashed in March 2014, the accident investigation team has concluded in a report (PDF) released Monday that it was “unable to determine the real cause for the disappearance.” The team said they were hampered by the lack of evidence, since the airplane has never been found. About two dozen pieces of wreckage have washed ashore in southeast Africa, but only three have been confirmed as part of the lost B777. The report concludes, “Without the benefit of the examination of the aircraft wreckage and recorded flight data information, the investigation was unable to identify any plausible aircraft or systems failure mode that would lead to the observed systems deactivation, diversion from the filed flight plan route and the subsequent flight path taken by the aircraft.”

The report also declines to suggest the crew was to blame, noting there was “no evidence” that either the pilot-in-command or the first officer had “experienced recent changes or difficulties in personal relationships or that there were any conflicts or problems between them.” Communications with ATC prior to the disappearance were routine, and no evidence of anxiety or stress was detected. “There had been no financial stress or impending insolvency, recent or additional insurance coverage purchased or recent behavioral changes for the crew,” according to the report. The leader of the investigation, Kok Soo Chon, said at a news conference, “We are not of the opinion that it could be an event committed by the pilot.” Kok also said the report is not considered final, since it was not possible to examine the wreckage or flight recorders. 

Re-enactments of the final flight, undertaken in a simulator using the available flight data, established that the aircraft’s turn off course was “likely made while the aircraft was under manual control and not the autopilot.” It could not be established whether the aircraft was flown by anyone other than the pilots. The report noted that air traffic controllers who were monitoring the flight didn’t follow procedures and failed to watch radar displays as required. They also delayed activating emergency processes, which delayed the start of search-and-rescue operations.

The investigative team included experts from the U.S., China and Australia. Kok said the report is not considered final, since it was not possible to examine the wreckage or flight recorders. Malaysia’s transport minister, Anthony Loke Siew Fook, said the government would review the safety recommendations in the report and take steps to prevent similar future air accidents, according to The Wall Street Journal. The government will also conduct a “thorough investigation” and punish those found guilty of any misconduct, he said.

Comments (2)

Report Remains Inconclusive, but the Malaysia's government will take action to prevent similar accidents? You don't know what cause it but you'll prevent this kind of crash in the future?
I guess it's befitting that the transportation minister's name is Fook.

Posted by: Mark Fraser | July 31, 2018 9:32 AM    Report this comment

This report ignores what seems to me to be the most obvious possible scenario to explain the behavior of MH 370; an onboard fire involving the 200Kg pallet of L-ion batteries being shipped as airfreight in the forward baggage compartment. The existence of this shipment has been acknowleged by airline and Transport authorities. Such shipments on passenger flights have long been banned by the FAA and were banned by ICAO after this event.
If these batteries had cooked off, the crew would first have perceived an electrical-like burning smell and perhaps interpreted it as an electrical fire. The procedure for responding to an electrical fire involves first donning the 02 masks and then turning toward an alternate airport. Then, they would have begun following the Quick Reference Handbook procedure for electrical fires (which assumes that the fire involves the aircraft's electrical system). MH 370 did, in fact, turn toward and fly by their ETOPS alternate, Langkawi Intnl. (WEMKL).
They likely would have been planning a right hand downwind leg to approach runway 03 at WMKL (to avoid an emergency descent over the rising terrain under the approach to R21) and this would have taken them out over the Andaman Sea.
Then, they would have tripped the main AC bus tie breakers which would have made the airplane dark and quiet. The QRH procedure would then have had them pull circuit breakers and then reset the main bus tie breakers and then reset the individual CBs for essential systems one by one, retripping any which caused a resumption of the fire indications. Meanwhile, the passengers and cabin crew would have been overcome by the toxic fumes and have eventually died therefrom. The pilot crew might also have received a forward cargo fire warning alarm before tripping the main BTBs and tried to extinguish this with the cargo compartment fire extinguishers. These would have been inadequate to the task of extinguishing 200 Kg of L-ion batteries.
These are lengthy procedures and the captain would likely have delegated pilot-flying duties to the FO and performed the QRH procedures himself. At some point, he would have had to remove his mask to reach the upper CBs on the overhead panel and may have fallen victim to the toxic fumes produced by L-ion battery fires. The FO may have, at some point noticed, that the Captain was incapacitated and removed HIS mask to communicate with or attempt to help him and thus become a victim of the fumes himself.
The autopilot would have defaulted to heading hold and altitude hold and flown the B777 out across the Indian Ocean until the 6 (or so) hours of remaining fuel was exhausted and then glided down into the water.
My only question is why they did not make a mayday call on VHF/HF/SATCOM before tripping the main bus tie breakers.
I find this scenario to be far less unlikely than positing a suicidal act by one of the crew as has been suggested in some articles about this event.
Neil Robinson

Posted by: Neil Robinson | August 1, 2018 3:33 PM    Report this comment

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