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Siegfried Walther
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MH370 Rapid descent? Game changer? Don't beleive it!

24 March 2014, 08:19
MH 370: I'm sceptical about reports of a rapid descent. CNN has been reporting a new revelation which some aviation analysts are describing as a game changer. You will recall that about an hour into the flight MH 370, then flying at cruising altitude of 35 000 feet (Flight Level 350) signed off from Malaysian ATC in the Gulf of Thailand and then disappeared from Radar after the transponder was switched off.

New reports from an "insider" now suggest, for the first time, that at the time the transponder was switched off, military radar picked up the Airliner entering a steep dive to the left, and descended rapidly from FL 350 to around twelve thousand feet before disappearing from radar. Ten thousand feet is the altitude pilots head for during emergency descents since its an altitude where one can breath normally.

Apparently, some analysts who say that this information is a game changer, now suggest that this could be a pointer to some catastrophic technical or structural failure on board as opposed to the theory I favoured from day two on common sense grounds, and which a week later, I was belatedly joined by other aviation experts.

Whilst I still favour the theory of cockpit incursion or pilot involvement or a combination of both for reasons set out in two previous blogs, published on this site, it would be foolish to completely exclude the possibility of catastrophic failure or, such a decompression.

That said, my theory remains unchanged and I urge caution in regard to the latest "revalations."

First of all, radar mostly cannot determine an aircrafts altitude or speed without receiving such information from the aircraft's transponder which was off. Admittedly military radar does have better capability than civilian radar, but I understand that one needs to be reasonably close to the radar in order for any reliability to be attached to the readings.

Secondly, the timing of the turn, which occurred after handing off from one area controller, and before being handed over to the other, (which allowed the aircraft considerable time to slip away) is a little too convenient.

Thirdly, my previous point gets even stronger if one factors in the simultaneous switching off of the transponder and the aircraft's automated reporting systems. Quite frankly, the odds of all three these occurrences, all of which are suspicious, coincidentally being accompanied not only be a catastrophic failure, but one which also disabled these systems too, must be extremely remote. Any catastrophic event with all those consequences, and which prevent communication with ATC during descent, would have to be sufficiently catastrophic to bring the airliner down within the hour, which, by all accounts did not happen.

Finally, in order to reach the present search area in the Indian Ocean on the available fuel, the aircraft could not possibly have remained at 10 000 feet for any length of time. The air is too dense here and the much higher fuel consumption would have rendered any such lengthy flight impossible.

But here's the killer point, even if we assume that all the above did occur and that the aircraft was forced by some technical emergency to descend to 10 000 feet, this does not explain why the aircraft, then, instead of landing, must have, (if all the satellite pictures and news reports are correct), then ascended back to over thirty thousand feet in order to allegedly end up where the search planes are now looking. This could only occur with the assistance of a hijacker or a pilot with ill intentions.

Game changer then. Sorry, I'm having none of it from these so-called aviation experts unless you can produce a wreckage much closer to Malaysia. So far, nobody favours any such theory.

So, all this means two things. No game change, and do take the "rapid descent" story with a massive pinch of salt for now. Of course, new and proper information could still surprise us all.
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