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MH370 hypotheses

Tuesday March 11, 2014

Filed under: flight nerdery — jackman @ 6:07 pm

A Payne Stewart type event? Here’s a version of that: realizing that they are being overwhelmed by hypoxia, the crew sets the autopilot for a left turn towards a nearby airport and a lower altitude? But it is too little too late. The crew’s incapacitated, the AP flys the settings input by the crew as they are literally losing consciousness, west and lower…

Fanciful, I know, and wouldn’t seem to explain the loss of the transponder.

And if loss of cabin pressure prompts the crew to descend – an emergency situation – then they’d almost surely shed the altitude manually, and in a hurry, not by dialing in a new altitude on the autopilot.

Then again, previous cases involving crew incapacitation due to hypoxia point to all kinds of impaired decision-making.

Hijacking gone wrong must surely be another candidate hypothesis at this stage.

In any event, I wonder about radar coverage out into the Indian Ocean, west of Aceh, south of Sri Lanka. I’m guessing that there’s not a lot there.

With fuel + reserve for a flight from KL to Beijing, suppose the plane had another four or five hours of fuel from the reported point of last radar contact, and continued on this reported “westerly” heading. Then there is a chance MH370 wound up flying a lot further West, perhaps somewhere roughly between the 8pm and 9pm point on the circled area, below (from Great Circle mapper, a circle with 2500mi radius centered on Kuala Lumpur):

map

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