Tuesday, March 11, 2014

MH370: Some perspective[updated]

The current story of intrigue - Large aircraft possibly travelling at 900KM/h do not suddenly disappear from nearly 11KM up in normal cruising mode.  Below is pure conjecture on my part, but trying to get my head around some ideas.  A long read, helped to sort some ideas.

Experts speculate that the plane might have suddenly disintegrated in the air or dived vertically in high speed

Sudden disintegration:  Firstly, from that height, you'd think that there would be a million bits of debris raining down over a wide area and some might have floated on the sea or fallen into a coastal area where it might be noticed by a local.  The coastal area is generally highly populated.  

Secondly, an aircraft would not fully disintegrate even if the fuel tanks all explode instantaneously explode.  Similarly a bomb exploding in a hold or elsewhere would still have wingtips and other extremities like tail/nose sections basically intact. 

Thirdly, a disintegrating aircraft with large bits still intact might have bits that stop moving forward at 900Km/h and fall out of the sky in their own paths.  This might explain why there have been reports of the plane doing a possible U-Turn on military radars.  

Whilst on that subject, with the long heightened tensions over sovereignty in the South China Sea area, you cannot tell me that every thing that moves in the area is not tracked to the nth degree.

Search area:  Supposedly last heard of over sea between northeast Malaysia and southwest Vietnam.  Reported position looks about right, for a flight path from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, and flight time.  Position reported not checked against exact normal routing for flight path.

Lets say plane wasn't exactly on course for whatever reason.  Highly unlikely, with modern flight path planning and GPS autopilots, but possible.  Travelling at about 900Km/h, it is easy to widen the search area to say 400-500Km square.  Only takes minutes off course to rapidly widen the search area.  If the plane exploded, the intact larger bits still have considerable forward momentum but can be predicted to fall in a set pattern.  Similarly larger bits could 'glide' downward over large area area for many minutes.

Think about if you will.  For NZ readers, that is Auckland to south of Palmerston North, Cape Egmont to East Cape and more.   And you're possibly looking for small bits of a plane.

Vertical dive:  In my view, as we approach day four without finding anything of interest, the most likely.  The search area although potentially large, is very shallow being less than 50m deep in most parts, probably with a very muddy bottom.  Yes, you too can check this on Google earth.  There are several large rivers discharging into the Gulf of Thailand and beyond.

Let's say the plane went vertically in.  Why, I do not know, doesn't bear thinking about, especially for the 239 souls that rode that beast downward for more than a few minutes.  

Viewed from behind, the profile is about 70m wide on the wings, 20m high at the tail, 75m long 6.2m diameter fuselage.  At water impact, possibly travelling at more than 900Km/h, aerodynamically intact and well shaped to pierce water and mud below.  

Yes, well buried in the mud 50m or more below is where I think Flight MH370 and 239 souls are currently located.  There is zero debris, zero fuel leaking as it is well into the mud at that speed.    It will be well buried, pancaked, flight recorder boxes rendered useless to track a post-crash pinger.  Remember the large plane that went vertically into I think the Everglades mud a few years ago?  Not much surface marking at all.

The RNZAF and RAAF Orions being used to search will find the metal of the plane, but it will take a long time to conduct a grid search.  Ships may get real lucky with side scanning sonar, but at 50m depth or less, very unlikely.

For the relatives, I hope they do find your loved ones sooner rather than later.  As to why, we would all like to know that.


plane specs changed

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