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Most Expensive Aviation Search: $53 Million To Find Flight MH370

timothy posted about 9 months ago | from the what's-the-right-amount-to-spend? dept.

The Almighty Buck 233

mdsolar (1045926) writes "The search and investigation into missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is already the most expensive in aviation history, figures released to Fairfax Media suggest. The snippets of costings provide only a small snapshot but the $US50 million ($54 million) spent on the two-year probe into Air France Flight 447 — the previous record — appears to have been easily surpassed after just four weeks.... The biggest expense in the search has involved ships, satellites, planes and submarines deployed first in the South China Sea and the Malacca Straits, and then in the remote reaches of the southern Indian Ocean."

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But Terrizm! (0)

mcrbids (148650) | about 9 months ago | (#46666771)

Seriously: a major airplane "disappears" despite evidence that it wasn't really crashed. Everybody's wondering who dunnit and how, and whether or not it will become another impromptu bomb.

There's a *lot* you can carry on a 777. $50 mil is a lot, but the amount of damage such a plane could do with a little direction makes $50 mil look like peanuts. And it's pretty clear that anybody with the skills to make it disappear as completely as it did is capable of more than just a little direction.

Harry (2)

invictusvoyd (3546069) | about 9 months ago | (#46666815)

And it's pretty clear that anybody with the skills to make it disappear as completely as it did is capable of more than just a little direction.

Houdini ?

Re:Harry (1)

davester666 (731373) | about 9 months ago | (#46667095)

Time for some enhanced interrogation of Copperfield!

Re:But Terrizm! (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 9 months ago | (#46666863)

And it's pretty clear that anybody with the skills to make it disappear as completely as it did is capable of more than just a little direction.

Sure, it could be some plot from a spy thriller - no way to discount that.

However, it is just as likely a pilot bent on suicide or something. Just fly in a direction nobody is expecting and then out over the ocean. That's pretty much all you have to do to make an airliner disappear. Oh, and he switched off the transponder and ACARS - that is just a few switches, which pilots need to be familiar with anyway.

So, flip off a few switches, set the autopilot for a new course, and go read a book until you run out of fuel. Or maybe have some fun exploring the performance limits of the plane while you're at it (thus explaining the apparently odd altitude behavior). Turn the autopilot altitude setting to 55k feet and hit the level change button and see how high it gets before the climb rate drops to zero, etc. The passengers probably wouldn't even notice it if you started that at optimum cruise altitude (the climb wouldn't be all that steep from there).

Re:But Terrizm! (3, Insightful)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 9 months ago | (#46666897)

the only explanation that makes sense to me is okham's racer: plane was flying to beijing, a fire broke out or depressurization in the cabin or hold. pilot turned around to go back to the nearest airport, but they ran out of oxygen and it became a ghost ship on autopilot until it ran out of fuel in the indian ocean. the altitude changes is consistent with a fire because apparently one way to fight a fire on an airplane is to go really high where there is less oxygen.

Re:But Terrizm! (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46666933)

I am a pilot, have had two non-trivial electrical fires. It's the simplest explanation, and explains shutting of or failing ACARS and the xpdr while the engines kept reporting data. Not saying "that's what happened" but "that's the most plausible explanation"

Re:But Terrizm! (3, Insightful)

Giant Electronic Bra (1229876) | about 9 months ago | (#46667303)

You don't turn around, you vector for the nearest runway long enough to stop on and scream for help! There wasn't so much as a single SOS from this aircraft, yet it made several turns and altitude changes, which wouldn't happen with an aircraft that was flying uncontrolled. It just doesn't really add up. Its also VERY unlikely a 777 would continue to fly at all after electrical system damage so extensive that its ACARS, transponder, and all radio systems failed and the flight crew was either killed or completely unable to enter the cockpit. That would require quite a weird and selective type of damage.

How about a hack? Software could do all of that stuff and is a lot more believable than a fire...

Re:But Terrizm! (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 9 months ago | (#46667415)

The French airliner (AF447) was flown to its destruction by the flight crew over a few minutes, with plenty of opportunity to call, and they never did. They were too busy crashing to tell anyone they were crashing.

Re:But Terrizm! (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 9 months ago | (#46667641)

From reading the timeline of events with QF32 after it lost an engine and a lot of control systems, it was some minutes after the engine blew up that they took time to radio in and that was with four pilots on board (two trainers there to do a flight review). They appear to have been a bit busy trying to work out how to stop the situation getting worse in the short term.

Re:But Terrizm! (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 9 months ago | (#46666947)

That just doesn't make sense though if the satellite/radar data is accurate. The aircraft deviated, flew for quite a while to the west (not towards anything in particular), and then turned south.

Climbing to starve a fire doesn't really make much sense - the air at 45k feet isn't that much thinner than the air at 35k where it probably was previously. Plus the passengers only have something like 10min of oxygen, while the pilots have hours, which any competent pilot should know. The passengers might run out of oxygen before the plane even makes it to the service ceiling in the first place (climbing gets exponentially slower as you exceed your optimum altitude). The pilot would also put the plane on a course towards some airport - perhaps direct to the origin, not just west into the ocean. And even if he did, why then would he turn south after a considerable delay?

Re:But Terrizm! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46666975)

okham's racer

Occam's razor [wikipedia.org]

Occam's Razor (1)

rossdee (243626) | about 9 months ago | (#46667107)

Didn't they confiscate it on check in? Or is it only in the USA (TSA)

Re:Occam's Razor (1)

gargleblast (683147) | about 9 months ago | (#46667379)

Didn't they confiscate it on check in? Or is it only in the USA (TSA)

They would have, but they misspelled his name on the no-fly list.

Re:But Terrizm! (5, Funny)

seyyah (986027) | about 9 months ago | (#46666977)

the only explanation that makes sense to me is okham's racer

Congratulations you are the first person ever to have misspelt Occam's Razor Okham's racer [google.ca] .

Re:But Terrizm! (4, Funny)

noh8rz10 (2716597) | about 9 months ago | (#46667005)

laughing so hard... I thought you were exaggerating but i checked the link and in fact google only returns one hit for "okham's racer", which directs back to this page. That's a first for me, I should get like an internet trophy or something.

Re:But Terrizm! (1)

pushing-robot (1037830) | about 9 months ago | (#46667133)

We could always compromise and call it Ockham's Razor... [wikipedia.org]

You're now a Googlewhacker! (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46667159)

There's actually a term for this. It's called a Googlewhack.

I think you can get a trophy, or at least your name on a website. http://googlewhack.com/

Okham is very fast racer (1)

TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) | about 9 months ago | (#46667305)

And the fail is you misspelled "misspelt" attempting to do a spelling correction.

The real truth is that Occam didn't have a razor, those didn't get invented until several centuries later, and that a correct translation is "Occam's Lathe" but the Greek translation to German got mistranslated into English, as I'm sure you heard, and so we go ....

And so goes history ...

Re:Okham is very fast racer (2)

smitty_one_each (243267) | about 9 months ago | (#46667399)

Personal foul, 15 yard penalty for Type I Error [wikipedia.org] when attempting to correct [google.com] spelling. Repeat the down.

Re:Okham is very fast racer (1)

sjames (1099) | about 9 months ago | (#46667555)

He didn't need one. Squirrels chewed his beard off as he slept. I know it's true because the Internet said so!

Re:Okham is very fast racer (1)

seyyah (986027) | about 9 months ago | (#46667579)

And the fail is you misspelled "misspelt" attempting to do a spelling correction.

Seriously? You really didn't know?

Re:But Terrizm! (1)

ArchieBunker (132337) | about 9 months ago | (#46666989)

If that happened why would the pilot simply not have lowered the altitude? Above 13,000 feet oxygen is required. He could have easily dropped lower.

Re:But Terrizm! (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about 9 months ago | (#46666993)

the only explanation that makes sense to me is okham's racer

Occam's razor dictates that there's no way some guy named Okham turned the plane into his own private racer.

Re:But Terrizm! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46667053)

Come on. Stop using this poor guy as an escape goat and focus on the disgustion.

Fire is most complex, not simplest, answer (4, Insightful)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 9 months ago | (#46666999)

Fire is a really, really REALLY answer to this mystery. It requires a fire powerful enough to disable communications minutes after they finished speaking for the last time, while at the same time avoid detection by a multitude of fire/smoke detectos around the plane.

Then after the fire finishes off every single person on the plane, it decides to chill out for seven hours while the plane flays without issue, despite that having happened with no serious airplane fire ever.

It's nice that you have an active enough imagination to believe in this mystical all-powerful sky fire, but to me it's vastly more convoluted to have fire be responsible do to the seriously amazing number of things to have to go right (or wrong) for that to work. Either suicide or terrorists taking the plane is FAR more likely if you are going to apply a test of simplicity.

Fire . . . bad! (1)

Latent Heat (558884) | about 9 months ago | (#46667085)

The thing about fire is that I don't see how a fire that incapacitated the crew could put itself out that it doesn't cause structural damage to the plane . . . within minutes.

Planes with depressurization have flown for hours until exhausting their fuel, but fire?

Re:Fire . . . bad! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46667633)

The thing about fire is that I don't see how a fire that incapacitated the crew could put itself out that it doesn't cause structural damage to the plane . . . within minutes.

An electrical fire absolutely could have resulted in this, and most aircraft fires ARE of electoral origin due to all the avionic components on board. An electrical fire very rarely produces open flames, but can produce a lot of fumes. I've been a crew member during many inflight fires. The worst of which was a fire of unknown origin that occurred shortly before landing. We were unable to locate the source of the fire so we decided just to land. We didn't go on oxygen because it didn't smell that bad, and going on oxygen sucks. In hindsight this was a bad idea. Remember that carbon monoxide is colorless and odorless. It was only minutes before we landed, but immediately upon landing everyone started getting sick so we evacuated the aircraft. The crew members closest to the source of the fumes were still showing symptoms of CO poisoning after a week. We were damn lucky that the fire occurred when it did. Afterwards maintenance was unable to locate the source of the fire, and the plane went on to fly multiple flights without incident with the exact same components.

So yes, an electrical fire could have incapacitated the crew without spreading and endangering the airframe. What a fire does not explain is the supposed path of the jet after the initial turn back.

Re:Fire . . . bad! (1)

tragedy (27079) | about 8 months ago | (#46667701)

The thing about fire is that I don't see how a fire that incapacitated the crew could put itself out that it doesn't cause structural damage to the plane . . . within minutes

Oxygen depletion actually seems like a perfect explanation for that.

Re:Fire is most complex, not simplest, answer (2)

quantaman (517394) | about 9 months ago | (#46667239)

Fire is a really, really REALLY answer to this mystery. It requires a fire powerful enough to disable communications minutes after they finished speaking for the last time, while at the same time avoid detection by a multitude of fire/smoke detectos around the plane.

Then after the fire finishes off every single person on the plane, it decides to chill out for seven hours while the plane flays without issue, despite that having happened with no serious airplane fire ever.

It's nice that you have an active enough imagination to believe in this mystical all-powerful sky fire, but to me it's vastly more convoluted to have fire be responsible do to the seriously amazing number of things to have to go right (or wrong) for that to work. Either suicide or terrorists taking the plane is FAR more likely if you are going to apply a test of simplicity.

Why would the fire have to evade the detectors?

As for the fire going out without damaging the aircraft that seems plausible. A fire breaks out in the cabin area, kills all the people with smoke inhalation then kills itself by using up all the oxygen. It's even consistent with some of the weird flight behaviour as a pilot dying of smoke inhalation may not have adjusted the auto-pilot properly.

Re:Fire is most complex, not simplest, answer (1)

vux984 (928602) | about 9 months ago | (#46667251)

Why would the fire have to evade the detectors?

Because otherwise

a) we'd have known it was on fire before it disappeared.
b) the planes occupants would have put it out

Re:Fire is most complex, not simplest, answer (1)

quantaman (517394) | about 9 months ago | (#46667313)

Why would the fire have to evade the detectors?

Because otherwise

a) we'd have known it was on fire before it disappeared

Assuming the first thing the pilots did wasn't turn off the communications system to try and prevent the fire from spreading.

b) the planes occupants would have put it out

So you're implying that detectors failing is implausible, and any detected fire is trivial to put out. If that were the case then airplane fires wouldn't be a problem.

That being said I would be curious to know why more experts aren't talking about a fire.

Re:Fire is most complex, not simplest, answer (0)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 9 months ago | (#46667393)

Assuming the first thing the pilots did wasn't turn off the communications system to try and prevent the fire from spreading.

The VERY FIRST thing you would do is alert the ground you had a problem. Not turn off all hope of getting help. There is no fire that is STOPPED by turning off a radio!

And even if it were the case the pilots were the stupidest people on earth AND acting in direct violation of aviation emergency procedures in order to take an action that would not help anyone, it STILL doesn't explain flying calming in a straight line for seven hours after with a raging fire eating at the planes controls and superstructure and fuel tanks. Sorry man, CNN's Black Hole is more likely than your Faerie Fire.

Re:Fire is most complex, not simplest, answer (5, Interesting)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 9 months ago | (#46667461)

Assuming the first thing the pilots did wasn't turn off the communications system to try and prevent the fire from spreading.

The VERY FIRST thing you would do is alert the ground you had a problem. Not turn off all hope of getting help. There is no fire that is STOPPED by turning off a radio!

And even if it were the case the pilots were the stupidest people on earth AND acting in direct violation of aviation emergency procedures in order to take an action that would not help anyone, it STILL doesn't explain flying calming in a straight line for seven hours after with a raging fire eating at the planes controls and superstructure and fuel tanks. Sorry man, CNN's Black Hole is more likely than your Faerie Fire.

No cutting off power and your locator is the first step in a fire [wired.com] .

These are standard operating procedures as you need to shut it all off to find the short. Besides what is ground control going to do? You need to do a quick change course to the nearest airport while you find and shut down the damn thing before everyone dies!

Another is to try to suffocate the fire if it is a tire fire by flying at 45,000 feet. Check. Next if the crew gets oxygen afixiation the next step is to cruise at 12,000 feet if the fire is still going. Check. All good so far. ... now here is the mystery. Let's say it was a fire. The captain and crew are incapacitated from carbon monoxide. The fire would take down the whole aircraft. It would burn through the wires for the computer auto pilot and crash the plane well before 7 hours. Or the structure would fail as it would burn through the luggage and explode the fuel compartment.

Also the path is changed again in the final arc. Why? Wouldn't it logically be on the same new path and be half way between Australia and Africa if the crew did die? That is west of perth alright but WAAY farther west. What in the mathematically geometry that says it is in the search area? Distance wise why wouldn't it be on the other side of the arc southwest instead of southeast?

Also if the plane is flying lower you have more friction if it still was at 12,000 feet. So wouldn't it logically be farther north as it would run out of fuel quicker too?

Re:Fire is most complex, not simplest, answer (0)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 9 months ago | (#46667473)

No cutting off power and your locator is the first step in a fire.

That article is as stupid as you are [slate.com] .

MANY real pilots debunked that article, I knew that's where you got your stupid idea from. How can people lack common sense to this degree? It mystifies me.

Re:Fire is most complex, not simplest, answer (1)

quantaman (517394) | about 9 months ago | (#46667539)

now here is the mystery. Let's say it was a fire. The captain and crew are incapacitated from carbon monoxide. The fire would take down the whole aircraft. It would burn through the wires for the computer auto pilot and crash the plane well before 7 hours. Or the structure would fail as it would burn through the luggage and explode the fuel compartment.

I'm not convinced this was the case, the fire could run out of oxygen, run out of things to burn (depending where it started), or they could have put it out before succumbing.

Also the path is changed again in the final arc. Why? Wouldn't it logically be on the same new path and be half way between Australia and Africa if the crew did die? That is west of perth alright but WAAY farther west. What in the mathematically geometry that says it is in the search area? Distance wise why wouldn't it be on the other side of the arc southwest instead of southeast?

Also if the plane is flying lower you have more friction if it still was at 12,000 feet. So wouldn't it logically be farther north as it would run out of fuel quicker too?

If it turned later on couldn't that be the result of the autopilot? I'm envisioning a scenario where the pilot tried to program in a return course but was very confused due to oxygen deprivation and wrote in some bizarre flight instructions instead. Soon after the fire everyone was dead and the fire was out but the plane continued flying with weird instructions entered.

Re:Fire is most complex, not simplest, answer (2)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 9 months ago | (#46667567)

At 400+ mph the air flying in would turn that into a roman candle FAST.

There is plenty to burn and windows break. Metal softens and gas and oil explode.

We will never find out. If they have not even freaking found debris yet then the jet will never be found. They found the debris in 48 hours with flight 903 and it still took over 2 years to find it.

I think the plane if it followed the same line is between Africa and Australia rather than right off Australia. People claimed they saw something Maldives which would make sense.

If the pilot decided to be real crazy and was conscious he could have landed it like the hudson river landing all intact. The plane would then slowly bob and not sink for many months or years.

We will never know.

Two More Things (0)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 9 months ago | (#46667405)

Another thing I forgot to mention - the fire left intact for seven hours the circuitry that responds to the satellite pings but nothing else?

That being said I would be curious to know why more experts aren't talking about a fire.

It's pretty obvious they know how unlikely this was.

Re:Two More Things (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 9 months ago | (#46667663)

the fire left intact for seven hours the circuitry that responds to the satellite pings but nothing else

An inability of other communications systems to operate in no way implies that everything else is out. I suggest applying at least some thought instead of going for such all or nothing bullshit.

Re:Fire is most complex, not simplest, answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46667409)

Electrical fires are not contagious. You can't "catch" one over radio waves from another plane that is on fire... good thought though.

Re:Fire is most complex, not simplest, answer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46667493)

Check out the fire that destroyed a B777 cockpit in Cairo Eygpt.
http://avherald.com/h?article=44078aa7/0000

If something like this happened at 35000 feet the pilots and crew would be in serious trouble.
According to the description, once the fire fighters arrived, about three minutes after the fire was detected, they were able to extinguish the fire quickly. Just look how much damage was done in those few minutes, including burning through the outer skin of the aircraft.

Re:Fire is most complex, not simplest, answer (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 9 months ago | (#46667657)

It requires a fire powerful enough to disable communications

The pilot does that by throwing breakers to isolate an electrical fire. Apparently that can be done very quickly.

while at the same time avoid detection by a multitude of fire/smoke detectos around the plane

We don't know either way if that was the case or not. All we know is nobody got on the radio to say anything about "a multitude of fire/smoke detectos".

Re:But Terrizm! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46667077)

In a cabin fire, they wouldn't have deployed the oxygen at all.

What about co-pilot? Or passengers? (1)

SuperKendall (25149) | about 9 months ago | (#46667217)

So, flip off a few switches, set the autopilot for a new course, and go read a book until you run out of fuel.

What happened to the OTHER pilot who would notice you doing one or more of those things, certainly within an hour noticing on a map they were headed the wrong way even if they missed everything else you did. And how would a co-pilot miss the turn you performed even if he was not in the cabin?

Also you would have to turn off the entertainment system for every passenger because that ALSO lets them see a map of where they are going. Which means every stewardess is going to be beating on your door for seven hours straight to get you to turn back on the entertainment system.

It's not at all simple to just head a plane elsewhere and not have a lot of people notice. It takes a lot of work to pull that off for any length of time.

Re:What about co-pilot? Or passengers? (1)

Rich0 (548339) | about 9 months ago | (#46667247)

So, flip off a few switches, set the autopilot for a new course, and go read a book until you run out of fuel.

What happened to the OTHER pilot who would notice you doing one or more of those things, certainly within an hour noticing on a map they were headed the wrong way even if they missed everything else you did. And how would a co-pilot miss the turn you performed even if he was not in the cabin?

Perhaps he was complicit. Perhaps he was clunked over the head.

Also you would have to turn off the entertainment system for every passenger because that ALSO lets them see a map of where they are going. Which means every stewardess is going to be beating on your door for seven hours straight to get you to turn back on the entertainment system.

Just tell them it is broken, and it will be serviced when you land. I can't imagine an Asian airline tolerates stewardesses who talk back.

It's not at all simple to just head a plane elsewhere and not have a lot of people notice. It takes a lot of work to pull that off for any length of time.

What are the passengers going to do about it? Stage a revolt? Breaking down the door would be pretty hard, and the captain could always just depressurize the cabin - just takes two switches to do it. The captain might just do that anyway if his goal is suicide.

Not that hard (1)

Giant Electronic Bra (1229876) | about 9 months ago | (#46667341)

The perpetrator (pilot or co-pilot) simply waits for his opposite to go take a leak. Evidence is the event happened right after the sign-off with Malaysian ATC, a good time to imagine someone got up and left the cockpit. The perp then locks the cabin door and can do anything they want from then on, everyone else is just along for the ride. So he cuts cabin air, puts on his mask, climbs to 45,000 ft for a few minutes (not really necessary but maybe he's just being thorough, or maybe he doesn't even do that). Anyway, he's now got a 777 to himself and proceeds to lay in a course for the most god-forsaken part of the southern ocean.

Honestly, how hard is this? Its not like people expect this kind of thing. Its even possible a passenger could have done it. The cockpit door would be closed, but again someone may have come out into the cabin, a sudden unexpected rush by someone strong and quick with some training, they could quite plausibly seize the cockpit and then the same scenario plays out.

Re:Not that hard (1)

radarskiy (2874255) | about 8 months ago | (#46667713)

The flight deck crew have keys to open the door.

Re:But Terrizm! (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 9 months ago | (#46667625)

However, it is just as likely a pilot bent on suicide or something

Or a fire and a divert to another airport that didn't make it.

Oh, and he switched off the transponder and ACARS - that is just a few switches

Or some electrical breakers as in a procedure for containing an electrical fire.

Re:But Terrizm! (1)

quantaman (517394) | about 9 months ago | (#46667035)

Seriously: a major airplane "disappears" despite evidence that it wasn't really crashed. Everybody's wondering who dunnit and how, and whether or not it will become another impromptu bomb.

There's a *lot* you can carry on a 777. $50 mil is a lot, but the amount of damage such a plane could do with a little direction makes $50 mil look like peanuts. And it's pretty clear that anybody with the skills to make it disappear as completely as it did is capable of more than just a little direction.

What is the evidence that it didn't really crash?

It looks like there may have been some odd circumstances around the crash, a hijacking or equipment malfunction of some kind, but I don't imagine there's a lot of places you can land and hide a 777 without someone noticing. The fact they haven't found the wreckage doesn't mean a crash still isn't the overwhelming possibility.

Re:But Terrizm! (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 9 months ago | (#46667477)

Because if it flew in the northern arc China, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and other countries would have detected it in their radars

Re:But Terrizm! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46667315)

Oh god not this again.

The paranoia of Americans never ceases to amaze me. "A plane went missing? OMG TERRORISTS WANT TO NUKE AMERICA!"

Get a grip. There is clear evidence from satellite data that it was over the south indian ocean when it stopped flying, and there's absolutely no way (going by both time of pings and amount of fuel it was carrying) that it could have reached land after that. There is 100% evidence it crashed into the sea.

But hubris! (1)

dbIII (701233) | about 9 months ago | (#46667619)

It's showing that we are merely human and can lose track of a large aircraft despite modern technology.

Re:But Terrizm! (1)

WaffleMonster (969671) | about 9 months ago | (#46667661)

Seriously: a major airplane "disappears" despite evidence that it wasn't really crashed. Everybody's wondering who dunnit and how, and whether or not it will become another impromptu bomb.

Every failure, mistake or design induced error you can't explain can quite often be blamed on malice. In the absence of detailed evidence there is almost always a path whereby evil human action can cause result x.

See also blame the compiler, lucky cosmic ray strike on wrong program bits, faulty hardware, magic dragons, unicorns, god.

When reasoning about what could happen when you don't really have any evidence it is important to appreciate the dangers of invoking explanations that could plausibly apply in just about any situation.

Devices like hanlon's razor exist to protect us from jumping to what are more often than not both easy and incorrect conclusions.

Well shoot... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46666791)

Couldn't they have bought a whole new plane for that kind of money?

Re:Well shoot... (0)

x0ra (1249540) | about 9 months ago | (#46666801)

There is just about 250 families pissed not knowing what the frack happened to their relatives.

Re:Well shoot... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46666811)

Then have them foot the bill.

Re:Well shoot... (2)

Rich0 (548339) | about 9 months ago | (#46666873)

Couldn't they have bought a whole new plane for that kind of money?

They would have to do that anyway. It isn't like anything that came off of this flight is likely to ever be useful again, unless it really was landed on a runway somewhere.

This is all about preventing future accidents, and providing closure.

Re:Well shoot... (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | about 9 months ago | (#46667109)

Nope, they are a sixth of the way there though. Though I really doubt the plan is to find it in order to repair it and put is back in service...

Cool! $50 million USD = $54 million! (1, Funny)

TrollstonButterbeans (2914995) | about 9 months ago | (#46666797)

I am now walking to my local bank and trying to explain how my $5000 USD is actually $5400! I printed a copy of this article as proof!!!!

Re:Cool! $50 million USD = $54 million! (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46666809)

Article is from .com.au... k.

Re:Cool! $50 million USD = $54 million! (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46666837)

That line was talking about how much 50 million USD was in Australian dollars. Way to fail, brah.

Re:Cool! $50 million USD = $54 million! (1)

ScentCone (795499) | about 9 months ago | (#46666893)

Way to fail, brah.

There is no context in which that phrase can be used - earnestly, ironically, sarcastically, ignorantly, juvenilely, ham-fistedly, or otherwise - in which the person saying it can ever, ever tell someone else they've failed.

Tracking` (1)

nitehawk214 (222219) | about 9 months ago | (#46666805)

And yet, people stated that "it would be soooo expensive" to add proper tracking to planes.

Re:Tracking` (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46666935)

I kind off question this 53 million number, I think this article is completely false.

This number was the cost from the search of the downed France Flight. The BBC reported that, right now it is guessed that the cost so far will be closer to 10 times that of the French search.

And more to your point, the International Aviation Committee [I cant remember the full name] after the France Flight had a meeting to get new standards, out of the handful of changes that were put on the table, all inexpensive by the way, the only adopted putting underwater ping boxes on the planes. I know there was a story on NPR's web site, from the same group claiming"to make changes", only the BBC reported that they had tried this before and you see where there at yet again.

Look for a magically disappearing plane in the ocean... I can see the ping box has been an overwhelming success [sarcastic comment]

Re:Tracking` (3, Insightful)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | about 9 months ago | (#46666945)

First, I don't imagine that Malaysia Air is paying that $50,000,000. Malaysia Air is out the cost of a Boeing 777 and probably some death benefits. But I'm sure those things are insured. On the other hand, Malaysia Air would have to pay for this tracking system.

Second, I'd point out that the last big "disappearance" (i.e., nobody immediately knew where it crashed) was in 2009--five years ago. And it's not like it's that common that airplanes crash and are not found within a few days. So you're spending money on the off chance that an airplane of yours crashes somewhere difficult to find. You'll probably spend that money for 50 years before you ever take advantage of the system. So, yeah, it's not really worth it to Malaysia Air.

Third, let's say you add the trackers. You spend the money year in and year out and, eventually, it comes in handy. So what? You can look and say, "Yup! The plane just crashed in the middle of the Indian Ocean!" Now what? You're still out the plane. You're probably not going to have much for survivors on a plane that crashes in the middle of the Indian Ocean. It's not going to make a difference in your insurance premiums. You're adding costs for basically no benefit.

Re:Tracking` (3, Interesting)

S.O.B. (136083) | about 9 months ago | (#46667297)

I'm sure similar arguments were made when the original black boxes were made mandatory on aircraft.

A new Boeing 777-200ER is about $260M [boeing.com] . A Canadian has developed an enhanced black box that constantly sends data back to the airline. The cost would be $100,000 which is only 0.04% of the cost of the aircraft and $85,000 more that the boxes they would replace. There would also be satellite data transfer charges which would be only a few thousand dollars for a flight like MH370 or about $20 per passenger on the flight. You could even limit the data transfer to trans oceanic flights to minimize the impact on low cost and domestic carriers.

Of course, all those costs would come down if every new aircraft was equipped like this. I'm sure the families of the MH370 would consider this minimal cost money well spent.

Re:Tracking` (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46667353)

Never, ever, rely on the victims of a tragedy to take a serious, unbiased, thought-out approach to future safety measures. Unless, of course, you want everything all blown out of proportion, super expensive, and no safer than before anyway.

Re:Tracking` (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46667397)

You don't have to be an idiot and stream ALL the CVR and CDR data and Netflix on the satellite. Just putting one tiny ping with Lat+Long every 15 minutes would be worth about $53 Million right now. If you want to go nuts and piss away the bandwidth of 1 guy clapping "we will rock you", fill the packet with altitude,heading,airspeed and the number of tiny pretzel bags left.

If the satellite owners demand to be paid $52 Million for their highly valuable services, then just give away WiFi allocations right next to their frequencies. Assholes.

Re:Tracking` (1)

CohibaVancouver (864662) | about 9 months ago | (#46667023)

And yet, people stated that "it would be soooo expensive" to add proper tracking to planes.

The 'people' are correct. $50M is much, much less than the billions it would cost to add 'proper tracking' to planes that cross oceans - And it still doesn't address the problem of someone in the cockpit switching the tracking off.

Re:Tracking` (1)

AK Marc (707885) | about 8 months ago | (#46667717)

It's estimated to be $200,000 per plane for live tracking. "Billons" would be a huge exaggeration.

Re:Tracking` (4, Insightful)

Savage-Rabbit (308260) | about 9 months ago | (#46667127)

And yet, people stated that "it would be soooo expensive" to add proper tracking to planes.

It is. As a manufacturer you have to machete your way through a jungle of red tape, get all manner of safety assessments etc. to even be allowed to install the ADSC-B/C equipment [wikipedia.org] on the aircraft. This is very time consuming and expensive, which is one reason why all aircraft avionics and generally anything that goes into an aircraft is by definition obscenely expensive to buy (right down to LCD screens and coffee makers) and why old airliner designs get reworked (it's a smaller bureaucratic workload to get a new variant of an existing design flying than a totally new design). If this seems like dumb bureaucracy keep in mind that aircraft have been lost to crappy installation of retrofitted electronics (a good example being Swissair Flight 111 [wikipedia.org] ). To install the equipment your airline has to ground the aircraft for at least a week (installation costs and lost revenue). Depending on the type of aircraft you operate and its age there may not even have been provision for the ADSC-B/C equipment which means airframe modifications and more downtime (yet more lost revenue and expenses) followed by more certifications and inspections. On top of that different ATC areas sometimes require you to have different equipment. Even simple stuff like software upgrades only happen at a glacial pace so if you think that fixing a simple software bug on an airliner is as simple as downloading an install package from the support section of the Boeing/Airbus website, uploading it to your USB stick, plugging it into a USB socket in the dashboard of your Boeing 777 airliner and selecting "Update firmware" on the FMS screen you have another thing coming. Airliners are one of the safest modes of transportation but that comes at a cost in time and money.

Re:Tracking` (1)

fermion (181285) | about 9 months ago | (#46667439)

Using industry estimates, i calculated that it would cost a few billion dollars to equip the next several years of commercial airplanes, not counting the current fleet. This money to prevent an expenditure 2 order of magnitudes smaller that might only occur every 10 years. It is risk assessment. And there is no way to know if it would have been any more effective than the current system. It would be just as meaningful to say that we should put a battery in the black box that lasts a year, or has a much stronger transmitter.

It's worth it. (4, Insightful)

ScentCone (795499) | about 9 months ago | (#46666879)

Understanding what happened could be worth a lot more than $50m, or twice that.

Major issue with the airframe, or propulsion? Very important to understand that. There are a lot more of them flying around.

A third party's influence and/or an attempt to steal the plane? Whether that ended in a crash or a successful theft, we need to know everything we can about who, what, why, to what end. If it was stolen and landed (extremely, very unlikely), gotta know where and why. If it went in the drink during an attempt, still have to understand what the game plan was.

Suicide? Hiding in regular traffic, then flying low and into the most remote, deepest water possible in the interests of never finding the plane - the better to make sure family collects on insurance money? Would be good to know, and will remind airlines to get harder about knowing their pilots and the pilots' current circumstances.

Regardless, the navy assets out looking are using the whole thing as an excellent training exercise. Lots of smart people have had to whip up new ways to think about what happened, using only traces of satellite/comms data.

Re:It's worth it. (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 9 months ago | (#46667205)

I'm thinking if those naval "training exercises" were billed as services, we'd be way past the $50M mark by now.

Re:It's worth it. (1)

InsultsByThePound (3603437) | about 8 months ago | (#46667697)

Yeah, but they're just navies otherwise training to blow something up. Governments were going to spend the money anyhow, they just spent a few more man hours and fuel doing this then whatever the fuck navies do with their men.

Re:It's worth it. (0)

chromaexcursion (2047080) | about 9 months ago | (#46667369)

Not at this cost!
It's official
THEY'RE ALL DEAD.

where was this outrage when a Korean Airliner disappeared around 25 years ago?
Look it up, the Russians shot it down, but it took months to find that out.

aliens were on board (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46666909)

no really the ubers above are pissed and want there alien back....

One possiblity, this was intentional (1)

approachingZero (1365381) | about 9 months ago | (#46666919)

Let's say you could take over a Boeing 777

http://www.aviationweek.com/Ar... [aviationweek.com]

Or . . . since 911 all aircraft can be sent a special code that renders them inoperable by the crew so the plane can't be used as a weapon . . .

And let's ask ourselves why would anyone choose to direct an aircraft far far out over a deep ocean away from and population areas . . .

Or maybe I read one to many Tom Clancy novels.

Re:One possiblity, this was intentional (0)

radarskiy (2874255) | about 8 months ago | (#46667689)

What kind of novels have I been reading to make me think "insurance fraud"? ;-)

Why the search? (1, Insightful)

AndyCanfield (700565) | about 9 months ago | (#46666951)

Look, yes. But why are 'they' spending more money for one downed airplane than the airplane costs originally? Why the fortune in searching? Why the massive ongoing search? Why is every government in a panic?

I suspect that aurhorities fear a nefarious actor, and they want to find out exactly who did what so we can make sure it doesn't happen again. What if the air transport regulators never find out what brought the MH370 down, but Al-qaeda knows already?

Re:Why the search? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46667097)

According to boeing (http://www.boeing.com/boeing/commercial/prices/) a 777-200ER costs 260million USD

Re:Why the search? (1)

ChunderDownunder (709234) | about 9 months ago | (#46667173)

Well in the case of the govt. of Australia, where this cynical newspaper article originated, it's a massive PR exercise.

"See, our defence force do good, noble, things in their spare time", when they're not implementing the government's polarising 'stop the boats' agenda.

Do they have a clue if and where the plane sank? Hardly...

Re:Why the search? (2)

FatLittleMonkey (1341387) | about 9 months ago | (#46667175)

You know they react like this to every crashed plane? Normally they find it on a mountain within a day or two and the media loses interest. This one is only odd because the plane was lost at sea; which only happens every 5 years or so.

The "panic" is really only coming from the internet conspiracy machine and the media which, for some reason, takes idiotic internet conspiracy theories seriously when they have nothing to report (instead of, you know, stopping reporting until something actually happens.) The actual S&R is exactly the same as every other air crash S&R. [In the Air France crash, they didn't stop looking for the black boxes for two years.]

Re:Why the search? (1)

JoeMerchant (803320) | about 9 months ago | (#46667223)

The media was playing up the "maybe somebody stole it" aspect from the very start.

If you've ever flown over ocean, out of sight of land, or on a polar crossing route, that feeling that you're really "out there," was true. It's a big world, after all.

Re:Why the search? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46667289)

~250 people were killed and one one knows what the cause was is sufficient reason to investigate for anyone who isn't a sociopath.

How is that figure computed? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46666995)

Is that $50 million that would otherwise have not been spent? I mean, when they talk about, say, that ships had to be deployed to some area, is the implication that, had this plane not vanished, those ships would have stayed put somewhere, doing nothing, and that the people operating them would have stayed at home collecting no wages? How is this figure computed?

"Closure" not worth 53M (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46667061)

Sorry, but any reasonable person knows they are all dead. It's not worth $53M to find out what we already know - that the pilot and/or co-pilot went on a suicide mission to kill everyone on board.

Re:"Closure" not worth 53M (1)

quantaman (517394) | about 9 months ago | (#46667267)

Sorry, but any reasonable person knows they are all dead. It's not worth $53M to find out what we already know - that the pilot and/or co-pilot went on a suicide mission to kill everyone on board.

We don't know that.

And I'm not sure it's accurate to say it's not worth $53M for closure, a good portion of the planet would like to know what happened. There's also the question of what went wrong, plane crashes are rare, which means they're invaluable from a data perspective. Say discovering the cause of this crash allows us to avert on average 1/4 of a future crash, 50 people is about $1,000,000/person, that's well below the standard $2,000,000/person you see thrown around.

Excuse Me BUT (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46667065)

Has ANYONE looked in the maintenance hanger at Kuala Lumpur International Airport !

Do I have to book a "first class" flight to Kuala Lumpur International Airport and bribe the
Airport attendants and "Guards" to let me in the maintenance hanger to video Malaysian
Airlines Boing 777-200 9M-MRO serial number 28420 sitting in the hanger !

OH YEA ! Question part A) where are the passengers ? and part B) why did the 'Prime
Minister' jump the Shark to "reveal" that terrorists downed MH 370 ?

Answer: Insurance fraud scheme !

On a different and very related note: "What happened to GPS" ? Hells Bells its 30 years
since President Ronald Reagan issued an executive order to declassify GPS for airline
transportation safety !

WTF

Tough Tittle Indeed

Nice visualization of ping rings (1)

mdsolar (1045926) | about 9 months ago | (#46667103)

You can make some more informed guesses about the plan by looking at the succession of ranging from the Inmarsat satellite here: http://www.duncansteel.com/arc... [duncansteel.com]

George Washington Library (1)

AndyKron (937105) | about 9 months ago | (#46667113)

That's only half what the George Washington Library is going to cost US taxpayers.

Elephant in the room (1)

mlwmohawk (801821) | about 9 months ago | (#46667233)

OK, lets say it. Bullshit. We all know it didn't crash.

It takes a series of catastrophic failures for a 777 to crash. Sure, it happens, but it is very rare. It is an extremely unlikely event.
Now, we also know that the various telemetry devices on the plane were manually disabled by the flight crew.
We also know from the telemetry they didn't know about (or could shut of, the engine pings) that the engines ran for about 5 hours after other telemetry was turned off.
We know the plane turned "off course" after the last radio contact.

Given all these facts, do you really think it crashed? Of course not. It landed somewhere.

The cruising speed of the plane is about 560 miles/hour. It was in the air for 5 hours after it's last known location, that's a 2800 mile radius. This gives us a 24 million square mile area to search. If we have 1000 crews searching the area, 80 hours a week. If it takes 1 hour to search a square mile, it will take almost 6 years to find it.

Someone or something was on that plane that someone wanted. The plane was stolen, BY THE PILOTS, and landed somewhere. We will not find the black box, well, maybe on ebay.

Re:Elephant in the room (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46667365)

> It is an extremely unlikely event.

This disappearance was also an extremely unlikely event. It happened to just one flights out of thousands.

Stop trying to see patterns in everything.

Re:Elephant in the room (2)

elbonia (2452474) | about 9 months ago | (#46667593)

Your theory makes no sense. For it to land somewhere it would need to fly into the airspace of country. So which one would just let some unidentified aircraft enter it's airspace let alone land on a runway without saying anything? The only place you can fly for hours without being picked up by radar is over the ocean.

Re:Elephant in the room (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 8 months ago | (#46667721)

Your theory makes no sense. For it to land somewhere it would need to fly into the airspace of country. So which one would just let some unidentified aircraft enter it's airspace let alone land on a runway without saying anything? The only place you can fly for hours without being picked up by radar is over the ocean.

Radar is not perfect. America, when it flew into Pakistan to pick up Bin Laden, managed to skirt Pakistani radar. Also, some countries may not want to admit publicly that they missed seeing the plane ... even if they see it on review. Also, some governments like Pakistan may be involved in the disappearance.

Re:Elephant in the room (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46667639)

Suicide or running out of fuel trying to get somewhere are the only things that fit the data.

Millions in additional cost or simply allocated? (1)

innocent_white_lamb (151825) | about 9 months ago | (#46667275)

How many of those millions being spent on the search are costs that would not otherwise be incurred in the normal course of business? If Johnny Rescue is flying his plane or sitting around shooting pool and watching TV while waiting for a call, his salary is still being paid. Same for things like fuel: if it's not used in an actual situation, would it otherwise still be used in a training exercise?

I suspect that a large portion of the cost of this search isn't an actual additional cost; this is just a convenient place to park the budget.

Governments and radar (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46667339)

There are many governments involved. Most don't trust China, and don't want to give away their radar capabilities. So they obfuscate. Ground based radar systems are good for about 230 miles (exact distance depends on the altitude of the aircraft). Satellite based systems are able to track almost half the earth at a time. Then there is ADS-B. ADS-B is short for Automatic Dependant Surveillance Broadcast System. It gives planes a 'map' of their surroundings including all aircraft with ADS-B, weather conditions and other information. An example of what they see is here [planefinder.net] . Note that all the aircraft in red are in real time, and the aircraft in orange are up to an 8 minute delay. A better explanation of ADS-B is here [planefinder.net] . If the pilot/co-pilot are attacked by terrorists, and there is no control over turning ADS-B on or off, then the aircraft can be tracked by ground control and other aircraft whether the aircraft wants to be tracked or not. It would have solved the problem for this aircraft, the French Air plane that crashed in the South Atlantic several years ago (problems with air speed indicator due to ice buildup in the pitot head).

100 foam plastic balls of orange color (2, Insightful)

Max_W (812974) | about 9 months ago | (#46667527)

Why about 100 foam plastic balls of orange color with a plastic orange flag and LED light (blinking for 3-4 months after contact with water) cannot be placed inside the fuselage on an aircraft which costs hundreds of millions?

The size could be of a tennis ball, an additional weight and cost almost zero.

Correction! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46667631)

That's $53 Million to TRY to find MH370.

most expensive? (5, Insightful)

the_Bionic_lemming (446569) | about 8 months ago | (#46667695)

What would the Amelia Earhart' search cost in today's dollars when you factor in all of the historic effort?

20 years from now, if a jet goes missing, it'll be the most expensive search in history.

The same as if another massive Hurricane hits in a populated area 20 years from now It will be the most expensive in history.

Heck, if inflation keeps up, 70 years from now if a factory burns down, the cost will dwarf the famous chicago fire simply because the reporters will be intellectually dishonest and just make sure that the cost will lack any simple comparison of monetary value and effort over a period of time.

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