A new page, Aerodynamics, was added to show the curved flight path southeast towards Australia. Also, the Descent page was extensively edited. Minor edits everywhere.
The original drawing of the exponential spiral (nautilus) from March 30, 2014. The cross shows the further-refined crash location:
Last edited June 13, 2016
Solving the Malaysian Flight 370 Mystery
A Reasoned Approach
Please be sure to visit all eight pages for the complete account:
Home, Narrative, Satellite, Aerodynamics, Underwater, Flaperon, Bayes and Descent.
The original version of this website based the events of MH370 on a lithium ion battery fire starting in the cargo hold. While there still might be some involvement of the batteries, a better explanation has emerged, as you will see below.
With the official search for MH370 continuing for a second (and perhaps last) season, it is time to take a fresh look at what could have happened in March 2014 to this Boeing 777 airliner. Much has been said about the possible scenarios but none has gotten us any closer to finding the missing plane. What follows is a reasoned, and reasonable, explanation of what happened without conjuring any complex fantasies.
Very little hard evidence exists for the MH370 disappearance with most of the best coming from the satellite ping data. Many theorists have resorted to making some very basic assumptions, mainly altitude and airspeed, in order to reduce the number of possible flight paths to a manageable number. Otherwise, it's nearly impossible to determine where MH370 lies. So very little hard evidence means the search will be very difficult. Still, we do have enough known facts about this event without resorting to poor assumptions that negate all subsequent work. In the case of MH370, we can safely assume something catastrophic happened to the plane requiring a turn-back to home base. The damaged and very broken plane is not a good candidate for making a maximum-effort endurance run in a straight line to nowhere in particular. Hence, the assumption about flying at 35,000 feet with all systems, including guidance, working perfectly can be thrown out at the start.
All the false assumptions about grand conspiracies can also be totally disregarded as well as thoughts about the pilots acting in bad faith. As you will read in the following pages, the true account of what happened is quite simple yet fascinating in all aspects. One should come away with renewed confidence in the safety of commercial aviation, its equipment, and personnel. It is a great credit to the Boeing company who built such a complex machine that kept flying to bitter end in spite of failure after failure.
This is not to say there is no blame to be parceled out. Aircraft maintenance may well play a key role in the loss of this aircraft. To a much lesser extent, the Malaysian air traffic control and government officials need to improve their handling of such exceptional occurrences such as this one.
The narrative page on this site will tell the step-by-step story of MH370 but, for the impatient, here is a short summary. An oxygen-fed flash fire erupts in the electronics bay, destroying some of the equipment crucial for a successful flight. The pilots turn the plane back to the west and begin a descent with the intent of landing. The pilots succumb to hypoxia and the plane’s automation takes over the next several hours. As the plane is blind to the world (and the world is blind to the plane), the plane flies in a very large radius left turn, the exponential spiral path first proposed in March 2014. The plane crashes into the Southern Indian Ocean west of the Zenith Plateau, west of Exmouth Australia. This is at roughly 21 degrees south, 104 degrees east.
The Zenith Plateau area was the site of the original search in March and April, 2014, due to underwater locater pings being detected in the vicinity. While the ping yield valuable clues as to the MH370’s whereabouts, the search area is soon discarded due to some very impressive but difficult to challenge mathematics that turned out to be wrong. Much too much time and money has been wasted on a fruitless search in an area much further southwest, due west of Perth.
So, there you have it -- no conspiracies, no evil intent, no fuzzy pictures, just a simple industrial accident that took a while to play out due to automation trying to save the situation. The wounded bird did its best to survive but it was not to be. What’s needed now is a renewed search effort by the likes of James Cameron or Paul Allen, both who share an interest in undersea exploration. More likely, the Chinese will mount an effort as both a way to find their missing countrymen and to demonstrate their technical abilities.