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Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: Experts Unable To Replicate Inmarsat Analysis 245

Posted by samzenpus
from the mystery-continues dept.
McGruber (1417641) writes "The lynchpin of the investigation of the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 has been the pings from the plane to one of Inmarsat's satellites. The pings are the sole evidence of what happened to the plane after it slipped out of radar contact. Without them, investigators knew only that the plane had enough fuel to travel anywhere within 3,300 miles of the last radar contact—a seventh of the entire globe. Inmarsat concluded that the flight ended in the southern Indian Ocean, and its analysis has become the canonical text of the Flight 370 search. It's the bit of data from which all other judgments flow—from the conclusive announcement by Malaysia's prime minister that the plane has been lost with no survivors, to the black-box search area, to the high confidence in the acoustic signals, to the dismissal by Australian authorities of a survey company's new claim to have detected plane wreckage. But scientists and engineers outside of the investigation have been working to verify Inmarsat's analysis and many say that it just doesn't hold up."
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Malaysia Airlines Flight 370: Experts Unable To Replicate Inmarsat Analysis

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  • An what? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Noxal (816780) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @12:42PM (#46973279)

    really?

  • Re:An what? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ClickOnThis (137803) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @12:54PM (#46973357) Journal

    "Analysis" would be my guess.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 11, 2014 @01:07PM (#46973439)
    If Inmarsat haven't released all of the data used in the analysis, why is anyone surprised that they can't recreate it?
  • Re:Who? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ColdWetDog (752185) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @01:16PM (#46973477) Homepage

    TF Author is basically collating some information available on the web (we do that these days, you know). The original data that is attempting to refute INMARSAT's analysis is from two people (with blogs) which do have some expertise in the field:

    So it should be straightforward to make sure that the math is right. That’s just what a group of analysts outside the investigation has been attempting to verify. The major players have been Michael Exner, founder of the American Mobile Satellite Corporation; Duncan Steel, a physicist and visiting scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center; and satellite technology consultant Tim Farrar. They’ve used flight and navigation software like STK, which allows you to chart and make precise calculations about flight scenarios like this one. On their blogs and in an ongoing email chain, they’ve been trying to piece together the clues about Flight 370 and make sense of Inmarsat’s analysis. What follows is an attempt to explain and assess their conclusions.

    Yes, this is an appeal to authority, but this is also a popular, non scientific, non peer reviewed bit of journalism. I'm not expecting much more.

  • Spy games (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mrflash818 (226638) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @01:30PM (#46973563) Homepage Journal

    In a world where spy satellites have 1m resolution, the fact that no country says they found anything within a few days, speaks loudest.

  • Re:I DON'T CARE! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ColdWetDog (752185) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @01:32PM (#46973581) Homepage

    It's really not about the people on the plane. It never has been past the first few hours.

    It's about a world wide industry that doesn't like expensive bits of it fall out of the sky for no reason. It's also not about the money. Hell, we could shut down an aircraft carrier battle group and feed the entire planet for a decade - don't look to humans to be rationale about that issue and don't try to conflate them.

  • by lgw (121541) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @02:15PM (#46973833) Journal

    but, but, but fire cannot melt metal! This is how we know blacksmiths use their amazing psychic powers to soften metal, and the whole "forge" thing was just part of the cover-up!

    Sheesh. You know, I love a good conspiracy theory but the Truthers couldn't even tell an entertaining story, even if you excuse their lack of understanding of middle-school science.

  • Re:Strange, indeed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jythie (914043) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @02:28PM (#46973883)
    One thing to note, Georesoance did NOT find a plane. Further investigation into the company (though skipped over by the media outlets that got suckered by them) showed them to be just another shell company run by people with a long history of pseudoscience scams. They buy up defunct exploration companies in order to reuse the name, bilk some small investors that are eager to buy into the idea that a small pluky company has magic technology that 'the establishment' does not believe in.. usually ending up much poorer for the experience.

    So basicly the media got fooled by some high tech psychics who normally would have been dismissed completely but somehow got just enough attention to be taken seriously.
  • Re:I DON'T CARE! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jimicus (737525) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @02:35PM (#46973935)

    Yes, you're partially right on that but in my opinion there are enough other incidents that can yield data - missing one is really not that major.

    Not regarding the Boeing 777 there haven't. There's only been seven accidents, and only one prior to MH370 that involved any fatalities. And if the cause was a fault with the plane rather than human error/intervention, it's important to know because there's a whole bunch of other, more-or-less identical aircraft in use and it's entirely possible that one or more of them has the same problem.

  • Re:I DON'T CARE! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @03:16PM (#46974135) Journal
    In general, people seem to have a strong distaste, often backed by substantial investigative resources, for mysterious mysteries cropping up in the course what what is supposed to be a routine and mature process.

    Commercial aviation (at least the large-aircraft stuff, stats for dinky little aircraft are less reassuring) is ordinarily so well hammered out that basically every air crash has a strong element of mystery to it and so the investigators come and try to figure out what went wrong.

    Compare to cars, which kill plenty more people (and, unlike malnutrition and ghastly tropical parasites) people we usually care about; but still get minimal investigative attention because so many of the accidents are either 'operator was piss-drunk and/or exhausted', 'operator was flagrantly disregarding the rules for that area of the road', or 'vehicle maintenance was somewhere between horrendous and nonexistent'.
  • Re:I DON'T CARE! (Score:4, Insightful)

    by evilviper (135110) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @03:53PM (#46974317) Journal

    40K people die every day of hunger and the while the USD 60M or more that were spent so far on this stupid search couldn't have prevented that, it would have helped a lot of people have another chance.

    For every $6 cup of coffee you buy, you're KILLING a person. For every $300 TV you buy, you're killing dozens. Every month you pay for cable TV, you're killing a handful. Is that about right? Because lack of monetary handouts are the ONLY cause of all those deaths? Political instability doesn't have anything to do with it, and/or could be fixed with a small influx of cash?

  • Re:Strange, indeed (Score:3, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 11, 2014 @04:29PM (#46974511)

    That theory is dumb on so many levels. First of all, "stealing" an aircraft is a ridiculous idea since to take off again with it requires too much cooperation from too many international parties for it to be feasible at all (there's a reason why aircraft don't have locks on the doors...). Second, if you wanted to use an aicraft for nefarious purposes a stolen widebody would be the worst choice ever. A small corporate jet would be the easiest to file an unusual flight plan for since the uber rich are reclusive and eccentric so that way you might get slightly closer to your target before any alarms are raised. Not to mention that any in-flight intercept would see just what's been filed and not the most wanted 777 in the world. And finally, there are much, much easier ways to get your hand on an aircraft if you have access to the same resources as would be needed to steal an aircraft in-flight (because that and maybe being swallowed by a black hole are the two theories that can be excluded completely). There are plenty of old aircraft that are practically given away if you have the resources to come and get them. Faking that paperwork is not a problem, if you have the same resources that you must have to get a stolen plane to take off. Old aircraft are so abundant because aircraft never get "too worn to fly" since they're maintained properly even in the third world due to international regulations. They only stop making economic sense to fly because new aircraft consume so much less fuel and at that point the old aircraft in perfect condition are nevertheless worthless.

  • Re:I DON'T CARE! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by camperdave (969942) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @04:31PM (#46974529) Journal
    Wrong! [wfp.org] The world produces more than enough food, and agricultural output grows four times for every three times the population grows. World hunger is a distribution problem, not a production problem. In fact, fully a third of the food produced in the world is wasted.
  • by sadboyzz (1190877) on Sunday May 11, 2014 @08:33PM (#46975819)

    You are probably scoffing and going "Bah, what are the odds of that!"

    Indeed. You haven't even got to the part where the plane apparently flew around Indonesian radar.

    But your alternative scenarios are "Plane was hijacked by... conspiracy... secret landing... passengers killed/being held.... etc..."

    No, the alternative scenarios simply involves a suicidal pilot, which has happened before [wikipedia.org]. This one may be holding a grudge against the Malaysian gov, and trying to inflict maximum political damage by crashing the plane and making it as hard to find as possible.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday May 12, 2014 @08:32AM (#46978119)

    You are correct. However, I bet none of your pans turned into dust.

    How did jet fuel 80 floors up cause a fire that kept molten steel underground for weeks.

    And, where are the pancackes???

If you had better tools, you could more effectively demonstrate your total incompetence.

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