Malaysia Airlines flight MH-370 and the terrorist threat – 2

And so, as soon as I write a post pooh-pooing the terrorist threat from stolen passports, it turns out the plane was hijacked by….someone. As of today (Saturday morning), Malaysia is still saying it might not be a hijacking, but my definition of that term includes the crew absconding with the aircraft, so it’s a hijack.

Based on the news announcement in Aviation Herald, INMARSAT has tracked the ‘pings’ from their system to two ‘corridors’, one in the Northern Hemisphere, and one in the Southern.

What we have is what I think the navigators call a rhumb line, based on time delay of the receipt of the signal by a single satellite. That’s why they can’t tell which hemisphere the plane was in, but given that they were hitting waypoints headed north, they’re probably in the northern ‘corridor’. If they’d had an additional satellite in view, they’d be able to see where the two lines crossed. However, we do have a second rhumb line — the flight time to the last location.

Here’s an earlier WaPo map, before the ‘corridors’ news release, showing how far the plane could have flown from the last point of contact. Now, the plane broke contact at 17:22Z (01:22L), halfway between Malaysia and Viet-Nam. At that point it had about seven hours of fuel remaining, depending on flight regime. The last skin track, over the Andaman, was an hour later, at 18:15Z (02:15L), headed north. The final INMARSAT contact was 00:11Z Mar 8th (08:11L), or six hours later, which would have been very close to the fuel exhaustion time, and 6/7ths of the way to the edge of this map. That puts them in the nearer -stan’s. If they landed anywhere short of that, they would have to have left the electronics on for a while, which is unlikely. I just have trouble believing they flew across India and Pakistan undetected.



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