Four questions about missing Malaysian plane answered

Apr 19, 2014 by The Associated Press
Relatives of Chinese passengers on board the Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 pray at a hotel conference room in Beijing, China, Friday, April 18, 2014. A robotic submarine headed back down into the depths of the Indian Ocean on Friday to scour the seafloor for any trace of the missing Malaysian jet one month after the search began off Australia's west coast, as data from the sub's previous missions turned up no evidence of the plane.(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Travelers at Asian airports have asked questions about the March 8 disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 while en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. Here are some of them, followed by answers.

Samuel Rogers, a 20-year-old German on a backpacking trip, in Bangkok and on his way to Malaysia.

He asked: "Why did the Malaysian military see the plane on their radar but not report it immediately?"

A: The Malaysian Air Force's official line is that its radar operators spotted the plane but didn't have any reason to suspect it. This is why they didn't attempt to contact the plane or scramble jets to intercept it. Many aviation and defense experts say there are grounds to doubt this. They speculate the failed to spot the unidentified plane entering its airspace, or if it did, didn't respond to what could potentially have been a national security threat. Admitting that would be a highly embarrassing and sensitive for any air force, and could be the reason for the delay in publicly confirming that the plane did turn back.

___

Aylen Meir, 25, of Munich, Germany, in Bangkok and on her way to Australia to work as an au pair.

She asked: "Why was the transponder switched off?"

A: Investigators have not categorically said the transponder was shut off deliberately, allowing for the possibility that it malfunctioned or was damaged in an explosion or some other incident. But there are strong grounds to think that someone on board did switch it off. The most obvious reason why a pilot would turn off the transponder is to make their plane invisible to commercial radar or other nearby planes. This would be consistent with the actions of someone on board who wanted to make it hard for anyone to track where the plane was headed, and strengthens suspicion of foul play. It would be very rare for a pilot to turn off the transponder in midair, though if it were malfunctioning they might do that.

___

Yip Royal, 29, a Hong Kong man at Tokyo's Haneda Airport.

He asked whether the families of those who had loved ones on board will be compensated.

A: The Montreal Convention governs the amount of compensation airlines must pay when a passenger is injured or dies aboard an international flight. Currently that amount is around $175,000. Relatives will also be able to file suit in their home countries against Malaysia Airlines. They might also try suing Boeing in their own territories. They may get more money if a court rules that either entity were negligent.

Non-American citizens will find it very difficult to sue either the airline or Boeing in an American court, which could award significantly larger payouts. The Montreal Convention stipulates plaintiffs can file suit in five locations: the domicile and principal place of business of the airline, in this case Malaysia; the end destination; the country where the ticket was purchased, and the place where the passenger lived.

The Montreal Convention's rules about where suits can be filed apply only to airlines, so relatives could also try to sue the American aircraft manufacturer Boeing in a U.S. court. But federal courts there have tended to dismiss cases in which the crashes took place overseas and the majority of plaintiffs are foreign.

___

Skander Aissa, who works in the finance industry in Connecticut, at the airport train in Hong Kong. He and his wife were traveling to Taiwan after visiting a friend.

He asked: "Why didn't they install GPS on the plane?

A: The tracking of airplanes is almost entirely radar based, either commercial or military. Some planes have global position systems to help with navigation but they are not tracked on the ground. Since Flight 370 went missing, many people have asked this question and it is likely that tracking systems will be upgraded to ensure a is never "lost" again. However, who will pay for the changes and coordinate their implementation remains under debate.

Explore further: Thailand gives radar data 10 days after plane lost (Update)

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User comments : 10

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BSD
1 / 5 (2) Apr 19, 2014
In the end, it all comes down to trust. As a passenger, it is all you have. You have to trust the flight crew not to over ride the systems that aid in the safe operation of the flight. In this case, we have a flight crew who seems to have become emotionally unstable, and as a result, have destroyed the plane and killed the 230 or so passengers they were responsible for. As for the government, they have to be trusted with being forthcoming with timely, accurate and truthful information to aid recover operations.

What we have here instead, is an Islamic, emotionally unstable crew. Islamic crews are behind other notable suicide airliner crashes. Their religious beliefs make them preconditioned to extreme emotional behaviours, not a good trait for an airline flight crew. The other is the immature, 3rd world mind of the dictatorial, Malaysian government who does not like scrutiny, isn't used to what they consider harsh questioning and can't cope with being in the spotlight. Tell the truth
rockwolf1000
5 / 5 (4) Apr 22, 2014
@BSD

Although you may be correct no proof yet exists to support your conjecture.

My question is why would the transponder have an on/off switch in the first place. That's analogous to having a switch that deactivates the brake/signal lights in a car. Can you imagine the chaos that would ensue if people could accidentally or intentionally shut off these safety systems?
Captain Stumpy
3.7 / 5 (3) Apr 22, 2014
why would the transponder have an on/off switch in the first place
@rockwolf1000
if I remember correctly, it is due to the fact that any electrical equipment in an aircraft/vehicle that has the possibility to exposure to a modified or pure O2 environment must be able to be switched off manually to inhibit sparks that may cause fire hazards. there should be several O2 bottles on a commercial liner and one will be stationed/installed near or at the cockpit/flight deck for easy access and emergencies.

I don't know who governs world A/C safety but the US has the FAA and federal regulations from engineering/fire/safety/haz-mat/commercial etc that all apply can apply
rockwolf1000
5 / 5 (1) Apr 24, 2014
why would the transponder have an on/off switch in the first place
@rockwolf1000
if I remember correctly, it is due to the fact that any electrical equipment in an aircraft/vehicle that has the possibility to exposure to a modified or pure O2 environment must be able to be switched off manually to inhibit sparks that may cause fire hazards. there should be several O2 bottles on a commercial liner and one will be stationed/installed near or at the cockpit/flight deck for easy access and emergencies.

I don't know who governs world A/C safety but the US has the FAA and federal regulations from engineering/fire/safety/haz-mat/commercial etc that all apply can apply

I have heard of at least a few tragedies (and near hits) that have happened as a result of this transponder being turned off. Collisions etc. Wouldn't a waterproof switch prevent contact with an enriched O2 environment?
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (2) Apr 25, 2014
I have heard of at least a few tragedies (and near hits) that have happened as a result of this transponder being turned off. Collisions etc. Wouldn't a waterproof switch prevent contact with an enriched O2 environment?
@rockwolf1000
maybe. now... I am speculating here but... to make an aircraft intrinsically safe and capable of operating all necessary electronic gear while in an unsafe O2 environment might also be unfeasible due to cost, weight etc. Military aircraft have a great deal of intrinsically safe equipment as well as shielding for EM (Nuke) that is not on civilian A/C but they also have dedicated O2 to individual masks, for the most part... the cargo A/C are different, obviously. They're also utilitarian, not comfy.

with civilian A/c its cost & weight & need. overall, there really isn't a need as the current equip is fairly safe when used correctly
it's hard & expensive (currently) to make an open flying pressurized space for habitation intrinsically safe (see ISS)
Captain Stumpy
5 / 5 (2) Apr 25, 2014
Wouldn't a waterproof switch prevent contact with an enriched O2 environment?
@Rockwolf1000
postscript.
something else to consider... there are hundreds of thousands of connections in the average jet today, if not more. so weight becomes an issue just like paint on an aircraft. The weight of 747 paint is 1200 lbs or 544.31 kg. roughly... http://www.airlin...91618/4/
added weight can alter fuel usage, take off/landing speed and change flight characteristics. Therefore to save weight, much is done like milling/chemically etching aluminum parts http://www.chem-fab.com/
it also means leaving as much as possible bare (like 10mil sulfuric acid anodize for certain parts and no paint etc)
waterproofing all the dangerous parts may just increase weight far too much when it is not necessary (or can be unneeded considering safety protocols etc)

Sinister1812
1 / 5 (1) Apr 25, 2014
It's a coverup. Someone wanted that plane, and the crew on board. Who knows if they are still alive? If it crashed in the ocean, where is it? Why has no debris been found? Why does our government and media keep telling us they know 100% where it is, giving us exact locations and giving us false leads about "parts of the plane" they've "found"? Pure speculative BS.
rockwolf1000
5 / 5 (2) Apr 25, 2014
@ Captain Stumpy

Thanks.

Still, these days anyone can buy a satellite tracking device for their car in case it gets stolen. The units are fairly inexpensive and I don't buy the argument that it would be too costly given the airlines are charging $20 extra to load your luggage or $15 to pick your seat! Heck they could fund it by selling off all the toothpaste and soda they confiscate from passengers in the name of security. LOL

The technology exists. The will does not.
rockwolf1000
5 / 5 (2) Apr 25, 2014
It's a coverup. Someone wanted that plane, and the crew on board. Who knows if they are still alive? If it crashed in the ocean, where is it? Why has no debris been found? Why does our government and media keep telling us they know 100% where it is, giving us exact locations and giving us false leads about "parts of the plane" they've "found"? Pure speculative BS.


The lack of debris is quite puzzling given the likely thousands of perpetually buoyant objects and materials on the plane. Could the plane hit the water without breaking up? They said the ocean conditions were not conducive to a successful ditching. And now nothing on the sonar where the pings were heard. Totally bizarre. Unless....?
Sinister1812
not rated yet Apr 25, 2014
The lack of debris is quite puzzling given the likely thousands of perpetually buoyant objects and materials on the plane. Could the plane hit the water without breaking up? They said the ocean conditions were not conducive to a successful ditching. And now nothing on the sonar where the pings were heard. Totally bizarre. Unless....?


Yeah that's true as well. So far, they found rubbish from ships. They said once it might've landed and sank to the bottom. I doubt it though. Very strange. I wonder if they'll find it. They said they found the black box ping too but now it has stopped.