Tag Archives: Angus Houston

MH370 – Control: More Important Than One Airplane and a Handful of People

I will never forget MH370
On March 9, 2014, I along with so many others wrote the following lead-in for the MH370 story: “Malaysia Airlines Flight 370, 777-200ER registered 9M-MRO, carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew, en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing was reported missing today. Air Traffic Control’s last reported coordinates for the aircraft were over the South China Sea at 6ᵒ55’15”N 103ᵒ34’43”E – A search for the aircraft began approximately four hours after it disappeared.”

June 8 2014 marks 3 months since that was written, and what is remarkable is that the aforementioned paragraph, approximately twelve weeks or 90 days old, to date is still the most reliable information the general public has on the missing flight. The incident summary still reads “missing” and the site still reads “unknown.” The information authorities are choosing to share with the public conveys the message that after analysis of all available satellite data, it is assumed “beyond reasonable doubt” that the plane was lost and there were no survivors. “Assumed” because, 3 months on not a shred of evidence has turned up to indicate otherwise. Incredible, but apparently true.

If the analysis of satellite “hand-shakes” initiated by the aircraft on an automated basis to an Inmarsat satellite is correct, MH370 flew South from a point North-West of the Strait of Malacca into the Indian Ocean, and somewhere to the West or North-West of Perth, its fuel ran out and it crashed some 2000 miles out to sea. We know the ensuing and unprecedented international search involved dozens of planes and boats scouring search areas that constantly shifted as new information, hypotheses and analysis came in. In spite of that the search was unsuccessful.

Yes “somehow” a Boeing 777-200 (currently worth around 260MM a piece) with a wing span almost as wide as its 64m length, somehow crashed into the deep Indian Ocean and left behind no evidence. Isn’t that just amazing?

After the strongest lead in the search, the early April acoustic pings detected off the coast of Western Australia, turned out to be a dead end, the search area was redefined to a vast 40,000sq mile arc of the Southern Indian Ocean approximately as large as the land mass of Tasmania.

Erik van Sebille, an oceanographer from the University of NSW, specialising in the waters surrounding Australia, has said the underwater search for MH370 will be incredibly difficult — and he is not optimistic of a successful outcome given where the effort currently stands. “It’s virtually impossible to find that plane if there’s not an extra lead,” Dr Van Sebille said.“If there’s no other lead…then I think we are in a pretty dire situation.”

By contrast, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston told a special Four Corners report, “Over the next eight to 12 months, we will find the aircraft; we’ll find its final resting place.”

Meanwhile, in the land down-under, the Abbott government remains “committed to the search” for MH370 and understands the importance of trying to “resolve the mystery for the sake of the families and friends of those who have been lost.”

The opposition has offered bi-partisan support, with Labour Leader Bill Shorten adding that the mission was not being helped by the running commentary on the fate of the flight. “We’ve all been touched by the tragedy and the disappearance of MH370,” he told reporters. “What I think we need to do is have less running commentary and more letting the professionals get on with the job of trying to answer this terrible question.”

What Bill Shorten suggests is colorfully ambivalent and vaguely disturbing. It reminds people like me who have been following the MH370 story since day 1 why, 3 months down the track, so many questions remain unanswered.

The real reason to have “less of a running commentary” on MH370 is to preserve the system, of which Bill Shorten definitely subscribes to.

It has little to do with hindering what is certainly a criminal investigation. The architects of the crime are surely dead and will never be brought to justice. Any partners in said crime not aboard MH370 would have played aiding and abetting type of roles, and whether any case against them would be affected by answering questions and making information public is doubtful.

With-holding information has nothing to do with Malaysian law. There exist international agreements that automatically over-ride local laws, especially in the case of an international aviation incident.

Granted, revealing security arrangements or military secrets are another matter: All military is paranoid. Everything from satellite orbits, to image capture format to telemetry information is when discussing military space hardware classified. Same thing with military radar – no, not the concepts which are readily available in any modern radar textbook, I’m talking about the implementation specifics, deployment specifics and operating characteristics. For better or for worse, all that information is classified. Whether that status is justifiable is a debatable point, and one that won’t be resolved because of the disappearance of MH370.

That said, this paranoia behind “classified information” is the same paranoia that motivates all champions of the system to remain tight-lipped, and to encourage their constituency to do the same. Do your job, live your life and don’t ask questions. The system is in control. In the case of MH370, the 239 souls aboard and related family, clearly the system failed them. The secrecy surrounding the incident has everything to do with members of various establishments protecting their interests and maintaining the status quo. Regardless of the degree of incompetence and negligence on the part of Malaysia or the airline, withholding evidence sends a clear message: “We are in charge. You are underlings.” It is a provocation; go away and bury your head in the sand.

From a distance, gazing upon the lofty perspective of the system, it is plain to see that the issue of maintaining the appearance of control is of far greater importance than the loss of one airplane and a handful of people.

Three months on, it is abundantly clear now that a person or persons deliberately flew MH370 somewhere it was not supposed to go. As each day passes, it is becoming increasingly difficult for the authorities of the system to pretend they don’t know exactly who those persons were.

…maintain the rage….

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MH370 – Some Ping Happening Here

Buffalo-Springfield-somepinghappening
It was breakfast time, 14th of May 2014. I was reading thru a Daily Mail article dated May 12 (updated the 13th): “Searchers fear “pings” they thought were from missing MH370 were not from the plane at all.”

I guffawed aloud, “Yeah, no shit Sherlock.”

When those black-box pings first made headlines round April 5th, I tracked down a scientist who helped direct the search for Air France flight 447, a Mr. Bill Meacham.

He said: “I don’t know any underwater acoustic people that think the pings have anything to do with the plane” – this was Monday April 14, just a week after the first reports – “One has to wonder if, in the eagerness to believe and the absence of any other lead, the authorities directing the search have downplayed evidence that is clearly contrary.”

But even before I spoke with Bill Meacham, I undertook my own preliminary research online which revealed to me that for several decades now, pingers with frequencies of 30 to 50kHz have been commonly used to track large, deep sea animals. Location and other data is transmitted to receivers in the ocean or to satellites whenever the animal surfaces. Acoustic pingers are also widely used as fishing net protectors, to drive away predators that would steal fish.

The more I learned about the specifics of the evidence obtained by the TPL (Towed Pinger Locater) the more it indicated that the received signals could have originated from any number of tracking devices, including all sorts of bio-telemetry tracked marine life. Anything from tagged whales to sharks, sea turtles, tuna, seals, swordfish, even a pinger attached to a net that is drifting.

Bill Meacham told me of a colleague at the University of Hong Kong who tracked a great white shark all the way from Australia to South Africa.

The first two pings detected on April 5th and thought to have come from the black box aboard MH370 came in at 33.5 kHz and later at 27 kHz. Remarkably, these detections occurred on the very first run of the TPL, and as we know if something seems too good to be true it probably is. But the experts on TV seemed very confident, especially with Prime Minister Abbott stating repeatedly that there was nothing in nature or commercial shipping that would make a similar sound.

That’s true, providing you exclude just one example (yes, just one of many) such as the real-time tracking of more than 400 marine animals listed at www.seaturtle.org/tracking.

But first and foremost, the signal’s frequency of 33.5 kHz and lower should have been the first red flag. This is NOT within the manufacturer’s specs of 37.5 +/- 1 for the black box pinger. It was written off at the time as “weakening batteries.” But reading this morning’s Daily Mail article, which caused me to spit toast crumbs all over my iPad, the authorities are at it again. The “vagaries of deep-sea conditions” they are calling it, with all the panache they can muster.

Meanwhile, Bill Meacham and his colleagues have been on record for a month saying the 33.5 kHz frequency alone proves that the signal did not come from MH370. Furthermore, that the frequency of the pinger would not change due to deep sea conditions.

The range of detection is another factor that adds to the skepticism. Scientists from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution studying Baleen Whales used a pinger with an identical specification to the one used on flight MH370. The maximum range of detection was recorded as 2.3km. By contrast, the distances between the black box pings for the detections recorded between April 5th and the 8th were rated at 9.5, 12.3 and 13.6km. Even supposing the voice and data recorders were separated after impact by ocean currents, the signals clearly cannot be from the pingers on MH370 (and don’t even get me started on lack of a debris field).

Yet another quandary is the first detection, which lasted over two hours, picked-up by a TPL moving at 2 knots. The TPL covered 9km for the duration of the detection (a little over 2 hours). Since a TPL can only pick up a signal at a maximum of 3km, this extended detection suggested something moving parallel or at an angle to the TPL. (Maybe it was Flipper!) The depth of the sea floor was estimated at 4.5km and the TPL at approximately 1.5km away from the black box, even when directly over it – it doesn’t add up. Equally problematic is the second brief detection. The signal picked-up by the TPL partially submerged at a depth of only 300m, so approximately 4.2km from a source lying on the seabed.

There’s something happening here. Is it a case of brains trying to baffle us with bullshit?

Perhaps I’m being too harsh. Maybe it’s just irony, but all these authorities directing the search seem to dismiss the reality of a double audience. They regurgitate the news to one particular group who upon hearing the updates hear but don’t understand. The other group are not acknowledged at all. Those who hear when more is meant than meets the ear, are aware both of that more and of the outsiders incomprehension. If thru persistence they are finally acknowledged it is merely to write them off as conspiracy theorists.

Even a Daily Mail reporter at the time remarked: “Call it a triumph of science, or incredible luck, but on the very first path, the Ocean Shield (towing the TPL)… detected a steady series of pings.”

Prime Minister Abbott, you’ll recall, was “very confident” that the signals had come from the black box. I’m sure he still is. I’m sure all G20 members are very confident that this search situation is normal; as normal as a group of dolphins with wings riding around on skateboards assuming we all live someplace where such behaviour is completely normal.

Since March 8, I have walked a line and I have not walked it alone. The line maintains that for whatever reason of turpitude, the authorities are not in any hurry to find this missing plane. It will take many more weeks and months and many more millions of dollars before it miraculously appears at a time and place of their choosing. On that day, the smug faces will smile above their blue ties and hands will be shook and backs will be slapped and a prayer will be recited. Stringent measures will be put in place to ensure that this sort of incident is never repeated. Speeches will be made. Listen closely when they are: it will be an orgy of credibility mired in fact. The surface meaning and the underlying meaning of what is said, however, will not be the same as the evidence.

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MH370 – Diego Garcia

DG-airmail

It is essential to mention the tiny atoll of Diego Garcia located in the middle of The Indian Ocean. It is one of a small chain of islands known as Chagos Archipelago, all of which have recently been mentioned, often in the same sentence, as missing flight MH370.

In the realm of new media some users are aware that Diego Garcia is a U.S. Military base; traditional media tends not to mention it. In turn, consumers of traditional information tend to be unaware of the operations conducted at Diego Garcia. Possibly because of what happened to the original inhabitants. They were coconut farmers, at least through the period 1793 to 1971 when plantation workers were documented, along with records of Franco-Mauritian managers, Indo-Mauritian administrators, Mauritian and Seychellois contract employees, and in the late 19th Century, Chinese and Somali employees too.

In 1953 the peak population of Diego Garcia and all its islands was recorded as 1142. How Britain and America conspired to get rid of these 1142 people is really quite a story.

It began in the 60s – didn’t everything? (The revolution was televised in the 1960s and 70s; that’s when the TV and the press began showing us how we were being fucked over from the comfort of our own lounge.) British governments, conspiring with American officials, tricked into leaving, then expelled the entire population of the Chagos islands. The idea was to give the principal island of Diego Garcia to the Americans who wanted it for a major military base. (Indeed, many US planes have since bombed Afghanistan and Iraq from the airstrips of Diego Garcia.) A successful book has been written about it, “Web Of Deceit” by Mark Curtis. It’s won awards and I recommend you read it; even if you have read it, read it again. A lot of people have since MH370 went missing. Mark Curtis tells a story about islanders who were dumped in the slums of Mauritius and, in the words of the British officials who left a “paper trail”, were abandoned in what the International Criminal Court now describes as “a crime against humanity.”

All the inhabitants had to be relocated to satisfy the requirements of a UK/United States Exchange of Notes signed in 1966 to depopulate Diego Garcia. By 1971 everyone was gone and the United States busied themselves constructing their military base. No current agreement exists on how many of the natives met the criteria to be an Ilois, and thus be classed as an indigenous person at the time of their removal, but the UK and Mauritian governments agreed in 1972 that 426 families totaling 1151 individuals were in fact exiles and due compensation payments. In 1982 the total number of people certified as Ilois by the Mauritian Government’s Trust Fund Board was 1579. The relocation decision remained in litigation til 2010, and then Britain fast-tracked laws turning all the Chagos Archipelago islands into a marine reserve. Strangely, it was around this time that Julian Assange and Wikileaks started upsetting a lot of people by sharing sensitive secrets.

Wikileaks Cable Gate document reference ID “09LONDON1156” http://wikileaks.org/cable/2009/05/09LONDON1156.html

In a calculated move planned in 2009, the UK proposed that Diego Garcia and surrounding islands become a “marine reserve” with the aim of preventing the former inhabitants from returning to their lands. The following is a summary of the diplomatic cable:

HMG would like to establish a “marine park” or “reserve” providing comprehensive environmental protection to the reefs and waters of the British Indian Ocean Territory (BIOT), a senior Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) official informed Polcouns on May 12. The official insisted that the establishment of a marine park — the world’s largest — would in no way impinge on U.S.G use of the BIOT, including Diego Garcia, for military purposes. He agreed that the UK and United States should carefully negotiate the details of the marine reserve to assure that United States interests were safeguarded and the strategic value of BIOT was upheld. He said that the BIOT’s former inhabitants would find it difficult, if not impossible, to pursue their claim for resettlement on the islands if the entire Chagos Archipelago were a marine reserve.

This brief summary surrounding the history behind the U.S. military base at Diego Garcia is presented here to demonstrate to the reader something most already know: Britain and the U.S. are prepared to conspire, to lie and cheat, and to go to dangerous and exorbitant lengths in order to fulfill their objectives. Displacing 1600 peaceful people from their homelands is child’s play compared to the vast and bloody “stop at nothing” history of these two super-powers.

On the morning of March 8 as flight MH370 apparently found its way to the Indian Ocean, well within the sophisticated radar territory of Diego Garcia, the U.S. was from the tiny island busy monitoring and projecting its strong-hold throughout the Middle East, keeping an eye on East Africa and India, and on Australia and Indonesia too. But, funny how with all that hi-tech equipment operating that March morning, U.S. military radar did not pick up any trace of a big Boeing 777-200 plane flying in their direction. Now, it’s reasonable to believe, for many reasons, least of all that a big, noisy, sixty nine metre long metal plane heading your way is hard to miss on radar, that the Americans are lying. Either that, or the Air Force Satellite Control Network Station operating on the tiny island of Diego Garcia, isn’t worth a pinch of shit.

Let the word go forth, that from this day on, that present and future governments of the U.S. are wasting tax payer money investing in early detection technology from Diego Garcia. It doesn’t work!

Why Doesn’t The Air Force Satellite Control Network Station Work?

It should! The United States Air Force operates a remote tracking station on Diego Garcia. Its call sign is REEF.

There’s also a Ground-based Electro-optical Deep Space Surveillance system (GEODSS) on the southern end of the island.

Diego Garcia is one of the five control bases for the Global Positioning System, operated by the United States military. The station helps synchronise and update the atomic clocks on 24 orbiting satellites that emit signals used by GPS receivers.

There is also a High Frequency Global Communications System transceiver site located on the south end of the atoll near the GEODSS station. The transceiver is operated remotely from Joint Base Andrews and locally maintained.

And, hey, while the soldiers operating these incredible systems are on a meal break, they can check-out flightradar24.com on their iPhone and track a whole slew of planes zipping all over the world, including, for 45 minutes at least, missing flight MH370.

Yet the entire Air Force Satellite Control Network Station at Diego Garcia, on the morning of March 8 2014, despite all the aforementioned known technology, the US military did not spot that plane. “We never detected the plane in our air space.” To date, that’s the official line.

I put it to you oh people of world, if that is true, if the U.S. military base at Diego Garcia is not lying, if it did not detect that Boeing 777-200 wildly off course, flying to Lord knows where with 239 souls aboard, then we should all be very, very afraid.

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MH370 – Fast Forward One Month

Image

April 8 2014AEST: The Malaysian Prime Minister declared mid-March that the flight ended in the Southern Indian Ocean near Perth. No tangible evidence yet. But nine ships, nine planes, and a British submarine are in hot pursuit of a ping or three they are sure might be maybe from MH370. Still, nothing has surfaced in four weeks. Not a wing; not a window; not a seat cushion; not a shoe. Nothing! Given the multiple and varied items aboard a plane completely capable of floating, that detail alone is beyond belief.

The focus of the search has been adjusted several times as ubiquitous expert’s re-estimate where the plane is most likely to have crashed, based on the best guess theory of its altitude, speed and fuel. Since the search began there have been over 100 gridded fly-overs; cruising at 1000ft the ten man crew have two spotters (rotated) eyeballing the white caps while others study video images in real time. To date, each shift has ended the same: “We saw absolutely nothing but ocean.”

Angus Houston, head of the joint agency coordinating the multinational search effort out of Australia said, “It’s vitally important for the families, it’s vitally important for the governments involved that we find this airplane.”

It’s vitally important for the insurance companies too. At this stage, insurance companies have already begun paying out many hundreds of thousands of dollars in compensation to the families of MH370 passengers and crew. No plane wreckage; no dead bodies; 1.25 million dollars so far.

Reported FACT: Sunday 6 April 2014 02.11 AEST, at 25 degrees South and 101 degrees East, within the 84,000-sq-mile search zone, the Chinese detect a pulse with a reported frequency of 37.5kHz per second – the same as emitted by flight recorders. Before the discovery can be verified, a Chinese air force plane photographs a number of floating objects in the search zone. Within days the “ping zone” is re-calibrated 200 miles South. As for the floating objects, they must have sank: the objects and photographs are never mentioned again.

Fast Forward Some More:

April 21 2014 AEST: The “ping” reports have ceased because the battery life of the plane’s data transmitters, estimated at 30 days, has it would seem expired. The search area has been narrowed down to a 10 kilometer square area where water depth is estimated at over 4000 meters. It also happens to be one of the most mountainous below sea terrains in the Southern Indian Ocean. Progress is painstakingly measured. Too slow for traditional media who has all but ceased to report on the unsolved mystery. New media continues its daily updates and newsgroups continue to debate various feasible and far-fetched theories. The world at large has moved on.

It is far from unreasonable to suggest that this story was per-destined to fizzle out in the way it has ever since the story broke on March 8 2014.

“Move along folks…nothing to see here…”

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MH370 – The Known Knowns

I know what happened-smaller

First public statement from Malaysian Airlines:

We deeply regret that we have lost all contacts with flight MH 370 which departed Kuala Lumpur at 12.41 am earlier this morning (March 8) bound for Beijing. The aircraft was scheduled to land at Beijing International Airport at 6.30 am local Beijing time. Subang Air Traffic Control reported that it lost contact at 2.40 am (local Malaysia time).

NOTE: “…lost contact at 2:40am” – later adjusted to 1:21am. The 2:40am time was it appears the time Malaysia Air Traffic Control notified authorities of the missing plane.

2nd Statement:

Malaysia Airlines is still unable to establish any contact or determine the whereabouts of flight MH370. Earlier today (March 8), Subang ATC had lost contact with the aircraft at 2.40 am. The last known position of MH370 before it disappeared off the radar was 065515 North (longitude) and 1033443 East (latitude).

  • It took the Malaysian government 5 full days to confirm early data from Inmarsat suggesting that MH370 was nowhere near the South China Sea.

When the news went viral, Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim accused the government of hiding information on missing flight MH370, telling Britain’s Daily Telegraph that the country’s radar system would have detected any change of course.

Anwar said he was “baffled” why the sophisticated Marconi radar system that he authorised as finance minister in 1994 had failed to immediately detect the plane’s deviation.

He described it as “not only unacceptable but not possible, not feasible” that [the plane] could go on to travel across “at least four” Malaysian states undetected, adding: “I believe the government knows more than us.”

The Marconi radar system, based near the South China Sea, covers mainland Malaysia and its waters.

  • The air U turn back West was initiated during the grey zone where the MH370 passed from Malaysian to Vietnamese air traffic control.
  • The maneuver was intentional because after the U turn the plane maintained a cruising altitude to reach the Indian Ocean.
  • All communication tools were deliberately disabled.
  • An expert aviation pilot was in charge of the plane for the entire period.
  • The Royal Malaysia Air Force detected the plane on radar, deemed it “non-hostile” and allowed it to fly on. With the exception of Thailand, military authorities from other countries (including the U.S. base at Diego Garcia) claim they never detected the plane in their air space.
  • The Captain of flight MH370, Zaharie Ahmad Shah, had such a passion for aviation that when he wasn’t flying real planes he was flying virtual ones on a self-assembled home flight simulator with records of all airstrips in the Indian Ocean, including The Maldives and Diego Garcia.
  • Based on unconfirmed satellite images of 2 objects floating in the Southern Indian Ocean, the Royal Australian Air Force, under the leadership of Angus Houston, with full confidence they had the right leads “to solve this baffling mystery,” was given charge of the entire recovery operation. And so the search began.

The known unknowns:

  • The Malaysian government stated, for almost 3 weeks, that the last verbal communication from flight MH370 was “All right, good-night” spoken by either the Captain, 53-year-old Zaharie Ahmad Shah, or First officer, 27-year-old Fariq Abdul Hamid. Finally, bowing to public pressure, the government released the actual and complete transcript of communication between Air Traffic Control and MH370, revealing a routine exchange up to and including the plane’s final broadcast: “Good night, Malaysian three seven zero.” It is, of course, impossible to misconstrue “Good night, Malaysian three seven zero” as “All right, good-night.”
  • When the air U turn back West was initiated the plane climbed as high as 45000ft (according to Inmarsat and Rolls Royce engine data), descended 40000ft in less than a minute (which a Rolls Royce technician described as making “no sense at all”) before eventually leveling out between 23000 and 29500ft. There is much conjecture as to why such a drastic fighter pilot type maneuver ever took place.
  • The plane’s communications went dark at 1.21 am on March 8 2014. Vietnamese air control twice contacted it, but it did not respond. Another Malaysian flight MH83 bound for Narita, Japan and flying half hour ahead of MH370 was asked to attempt contact. It was initiated but Vietnamese air control was informed that the response was static and mumbling.Why did the Vietnamese (and scores of military monitoring these channels) wait until 36 hours after the disappearance to admit this conversation took place?
  • MH370 flew on for another 6.5 hours:
    • To date, there is no indication of who was alerted in that time and what action, if any, was taken.
    • To date, there is no indication of what the civil aviation authorities and the air force did during this time.
    • At 6:30 on the morning the plane was scheduled to land at Beijing airport (the plane had already been missing for 5 hours), the Arrivals board listed MH370 as DELAYED. This remained in place until the first press conference went live at 7:24am Malaysian time.

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