Malaysia Airlines flight MH-370 and the terrorist threat – Second Wrapup

This is a followup on an earlier post, because Malaysia has now issued its laughably short preliminary investigation report. This is the aeronautical safety investigation, and not the police investigation, which is still sealed. The released data gives very little information that is new, and ignores some data that has already been released. For example, it doesn’t mention any flight altitudes, except in the controller texts.

Official Track Info

Official Track Info
Red box is most likely endpoint

One thing that is new is the track west of Malaysia. The aircraft apparently did not fly waypoint to waypoint after it crossed the peninsula, but instead it turned WNW as soon as it went feet wet, and flew direct to a point NNE of Pulau We, where it turned south.

Taking a proper Bayesian approach, we’d have to say that this new inforfmation slightly lowers the probability that the change in flight was due to a crew decision, as opposed to a cockpit intruder. My guess is still that it was one of the pilots, but I have slightly lower confidence in that assessment.

The second thing to note is the curving path after it turned south. That doesn’t look like an autopilot-directed track. If we assume that an aircraft that size with no control inputs would sooner or later (and probably sooner) drift into an uncrecoverable attitude, there had to be someone alive in the cockpit. On the other hand, if the aircraft would remain stable, and drift only slightly over a long period, we might see a curving track. The final, and I think most likely, scenario is that the pilot was still alive, and putting enough control inputs in to keep it from falling out of the sky, right up to the point where it fell out of the sky.

Given what we still don’t know, there’s little chance it was an accident (given the deliberate actions over time) or that it was an act of terrorism (given that terrorism wants an audience). The most likely scenario is that the aircraft was hijacked, either by the crew or a passenger, and my money is still on one or both of the crew members.

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