Category Archives: Aviation Safety

The Latest on Malaysian Government Incompetence


9M-MRO — The Boeing 777 that would become Malaysia Flight 370

Back when I was the QATS (Quality Assurance & Training Specialist) for El Paso Airport Traffic Control Tower and TRACON (Terminal Radar Approach Control) one of my duties was accident/incident investigation.  As an investigator one of my most crucial responsibilities was transcribing onto paper from audio recordings a complete, verbatim account of any and all radio and landline communications related to any accident under formal investigation.  This required headphones, copies of the original recordings, and endless hours of playing and replaying each snippet of communication no matter how seemingly trivial.

The primary task during such a tedious and time consuming endeavor is to transcribe every utterance with 100% accuracy.  If I couldn’t make out precisely what was said then I was required to note it in the transcript with something such as, “roger, mooney um four seven two (unintelligible) good day“.  In a formal transcript there is no capitalization, no punctuation, no guesswork.  If I heard “ah,” “uh,” or “um,” then I put “ah,” “uh,” or “um,” into the transcript.  I was not even allowed by regulation to use an apostrophe for an obvious contraction — absolutely nothing that could even remotely be construed as inadvertently influencing or unduly weighting the actual official record whatsoever.  The only thing that went on the transcript were the time the transmission began, the entity making the transmission, and what precisely was said word . . . for . . . word.

What has this to do with MAS370, you ask?  It’s being reported in multiple U.K. outlets including the BBC that Malaysia just corrected their account of the final transmission from MAS370. The revised account reads, “Goodnight Malaysian three seven zero,” rather than the, “All right, good night,” version given to the public twenty-three days ago.

We are now three+ weeks into this thing, and the Malaysian government can’t even get straight something as simple and straightforward as the air traffic control transcript.  If they cannot even do that much, what hope is there that any information coming from Malaysia has any validity whatsoever?

This has to be by far the most incompetent air incident investigation ever run, worldwide, throughout the history of aviation, bar none.

It’s being reported in multiple U.K. outlets including the BBC that Malaysia just corrected their account of the final transmission from MAS370.  The revised account reads, “Goodnight Malaysian three seven zero.”
We are now three+ weeks into this thing, and the Malaysian government can’t even get the ATC transcript correct.  This has to be by far the most incompetent air incident investigation ever run worldwide.
Un-Frappin’ Believable!
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Filed under Aircraft, Aviation Safety, R. Doug Wicker

The Latest Stupidity from CNN on MAS370


Unbelievable (image from JetCareers):

News Flash:  Boeing 777 won't fly without fuel.  No JOKE!

News Flash: Boeing 777 won’t fly without fuel. No JOKE!

If you’re still watching CNN for your coverage of this tragedy, please stop.

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Filed under Aircraft, Aviation Safety

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 — It’s STILL all about what we DON’T know


Boeing 777-2H6ER, Registration 9M-MRO — The now infamous Malaysia Airlines Flight 370

Well, I did try to warn everyone.  Remember this post?  Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 — What We Know and What We Don’t.  I did say that it’s not about what we know at this point (and that isn’t much).  Rather, it’s about what we do not know, and won’t until the aircraft is found, the CVR and DFDR are retrieved, or until other information surfaces.

Despite that clear warning not just from me, but also others who are expert in the field, the usual Internet Commandos are subjecting everyone to nothing less than a steady stream of garbage.  These armchair “experts” in everything are sitting before their keyboards in their underwear delighting in spewing forth a steady stream of unsubstantiated rumors and crazy theories all the while grasping at any piece of misinformation that comes their way if it even remotely makes it appear that they know what they’re talking about.

The Boeing 777 that became MAS370 (IATA Code MH370)

What I find really reprehensible is when the head of the Malaysian Air Force — General Rodzali Daud — prematurely breaks unconfirmed military radar “information” that not only appears now to have been completely erroneous, but which served to divert critically needed naval and airborne resources from the primary search site to go on a wild goose chase several hundred miles away.  The general has since tried to back away from those public comments, but the damage was already done and many critical hours were wasted in the search.

Now for a primer on civilian air traffic radar versus military defense radar:  Civilian radar displays both primary radar (reflected radio energy bounced off a “target”) and secondary radar (an “interrogator” signal sent by radar to an aircraft’s transponder, which encodes information and sends a “reply” signal back to the radar antenna.  Military radar does the same, but whereas civilian radar operators are more concerned with the information supplied by secondary radar returns, the military’s central interest are the primary radar returns.

That’s because air traffic control is designed to guide and assist aircraft that want to be seen, and the military is geared more toward detecting an enemy that does not want to be seen.

Did the Malaysian military see a target overfly Malaysia that night from east to west?  Very possibly.  Do the Malaysia military have a way of knowing who that aircraft was?  Not unless the primary target was tracked from its point of origin, or the operator maintained a track on a target from before the secondary radar transponder was no longer sending a reply.  In other words, they couldn’t possibly know that target was MAS370 unless they’d been tracking the aircraft before it went from a secondary radar target with an operating transponder to just a straight primary target in what some would call a “stealth mode” that isn’t really all that stealthy.

Would Malaysian military defense radar operators be watching a civilian target that closely, closely enough to maintain positive identification the whole time from the moment the transponder was deactivated?  Why would they?  They’re looking for the guy who is running without a transponder trying to sneak into their airspace.  They don’t care about a civilian airliner unless that airliner becomes a threat, and they won’t know that until they get a call from civilian ATC telling them that the airliner is no longer responding to air traffic control instructions.  In that case ATC is going to tell military defense precisely where the target is so that military radar can initiate a positive track on the aircraft and keep it under surveillance.

So, who are the experts in the media whom you can currently trust for your information?  Here’s the test of a true aviation expert:

Beyond the straight, verified, concrete facts, the more someone tells you that they “know” about this situation the less of an “expert” that person is.  The true experts are still waiting for more information before they go spouting off about what “may” have happened to MAS370.  The faux “experts” are telling you what happened and what didn’t based upon information that just isn’t there.

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Filed under Aircraft, Aviation Safety