Kindred spirit

How Inmarsat found #MH370

Below was taken from the BBC website:

UK firm behind Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 breakthrough

The revelation that flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean is based on new analysis by UK investigators and the British satellite firm Inmarsat, Malaysia’s prime minister has said.

Najib Razak said relatives of the flight’s 239 passengers and crew had been told of the “heartbreaking” news.

Inmarsat used new techniques to detect the plane’s course, he said.

The UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch, which probes serious civil aircraft incidents, was also involved.

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 went missing after taking off from Kuala Lumpur on 8 March.

Mr Razak’s announcement came as the international search effort reached a fifth day of operations in the southern Indian Ocean.

Inmarsat has told the BBC it gave the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) the new data on Sunday – stressing it needed to be checked before it was made public.

How it was done

Engineers spent all weekend looking back at a previous Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 flights, going back several weeks.

They compared the satellite data from those flights with flight MH370 and were able to work out it went south.

This is cutting-edge modelling, never tried before. It uses the Doppler effect – which is what makes a police siren sound different from different points.

They had it reviewed by other scientists before handing it over.

As far as they can tell, the plane was flying at cruising height, above 30,000ft. They found no evidence of fluctuating heights being reported.

This is it now – they cannot pinpoint the position any further. They handed this data over on Sunday morning.

The firm said its latest calculation involved a large amount of data analysis, focusing on a number of factors including the movements of other aircraft.

It involved an entirely new way of modelling which is why the analysis took some time, the firm said.

Inmarsat senior vice-president Chris McLaughlin said the firm had studied electronic “pings” – or bursts of data – which the plane had sent to one of its satellites.

He told the BBC: “We have been dealing with a totally new area. We’ve been trying to help an investigation based on a single signal once an hour from an aircraft that didn’t include any GPS data, any time and distance information.

“So this really was a bit of a shot in the dark and it’s to the credit of our scientific team that they came up and managed to model this.”

Mr McLaughlin continued: “They managed to find a way in which to say just a single ping can be used to say the plane was both powered up and travelling, and then by a process of elimination – comparing it to other known flights – establish that it went south.”

A spokeswoman for the AAIB said it could not comment on the investigation, but confirmed: “As set out by the Malaysian prime minister, we have been working with the UK company Inmarsat, using satellite data to determine the area on which to focus the search.”

Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak confirmed the fate of the plane at a news conference

Relatives heard the news they feared days after the Malaysia Airlines flight went missing

Oceanographer Dr Simon Boxall, from the University of Southampton, told the BBC: “The algorithms and the techniques [Inmarsat] have applied to try and locate – to within a certain area – where the last transmission was made is really quite phenomenal – but also quite tragic because it does show this plane was heading to an open area of ocean.”

He continued: “They’ve probably crammed almost a year’s worth of research into maybe a couple of weeks, so it’s not a routine calculation they would ever, ever make.

“They’ve been looking at all the signals they have, all the recordings they have, and processing that many times over to try and pinpoint where the plane’s signal came from. Technologically it’s really quite astounding.”

But Philip Baum, editor of Aviation Security International Magazine, said the mystery of the missing Boeing 777 jet had not been solved.

“We still believe there was a deliberate act that took place on board the flight deck inside the cockpit that resulted in the aircraft turning and heading south,” he said.

“So until we find the black box we’re really not going to know anything more.”

Mr Razak told a news conference in Kuala Lumpur that work by the AAIB and Inmarsat had revealed MH370’s last position was in the ocean west of Perth, Australia.

“This is a remote location, far from any possible landing sites. It is therefore with deep sadness and regret that I must inform you that – according to this new data – flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean,” he said.

He added that for the relatives of those on board, “the past few weeks have been heartbreaking. I know this news must be harder still”.

Malaysia Airlines said all relatives of those on board had been informed “face-to-face by our top management”, as well as by text message.

Boeing said in a statement: “Our thoughts and deepest sympathies continue to be with the families and loved ones of those aboard.”

British Royal Navy ship HMS Echo is due to arrive in the area on Tuesday to help with the search.

Deepest condolences to the families of the passengers and crew of MH370.


10 thoughts on “How Inmarsat found #MH370

  1. I don’t understand the Immarsat technicalities. Even DS Hishamuddin just read from prepared text at the Press Briefing at 5 pm just now and distributed handouts giving a more detailed technical explanation after the briefing.

    I know it’s grieving, sombre and serious mood now. But I have long held my frustration at those who lash at MH370 Investigation Team headed by Hishamuddin, accusing all sorts, including withholding information. What the hell is withholding information as there was no information to withhold in the first place? Good that he has been consistent, sticking to the stand that no information be released unless verified and/or corroborated, otherwise confusing everybody from ear to ear. And even such technical information as referred to above, not many would understand.

    Bloody sensationalizing CNN has been among those whipping up the frenzy of “withholding information”. Jim Clancy was a culprit but had toned down in his comments, more of the word “unprecedented case” being used noow and only this afternoon he clarified that the MAS texted message was “in addition to the phone conversations” they tried to do to some 1,000 family members and relatives in KL and Beijing, to ensure no one missed the information in the rush to get the message before the the announcement of the plane ending in the Indian Ocean that PM made at 10 pm last night.

    Richard Quest was being rather responsible in his comment but the bloody Jew Wolf Blitzer had a panel of so-called experts coming out with even weird speculation in between remarks of “insufficient explanation”. Hell, the Investigation Team had many genuine foreign experts from US, UK etc and they concur with Malaysia’s stand.

    And I reserve my comments on the Chinese until a later time as 2/3 of those who perished are their grieving nationals. My thoghts and prayers are with the families and friends of all those in MH370.


  2. I trust those UK and other technical experts, their assessment of the direction MH370 went, their reading of the satellite images etc, but not the Chinese. DS Hishamuddin said they diverted their attention to look for the objects shown in the Chinese satellite images but found nothing.

    Then I read that the Australians also checked the area of the Chinese jet pilots’ “sighting” of two objects quite far away from that sighted by the Australians and they too found nothing. But what was disturbing was that the sighting was at 30,000 feet. Can anybody see anything in the ocean down below from 30,000 feet up? If not, what are the Chinese up to?


  3. “We still believe there was a deliberate act that took place on board the flight deck inside the cockpit that resulted in the aircraft turning and heading south,”

    Is this the sort of things the Chinese pax relatives demanded to know and demonstrated for? Yeah, everybody wants to know that but just not possible until the black box is found.

    We understand the anguish and anxiety but do try to be reasonable, be like the relatives of the 80 or so other passengers and crew.


  4. “So until we find the black box we’re really not going to know anything more.”

    Anything more will be speculation. Cannot speculate, because if not true later, everybody will be more angry.

    And it will be a long time before the black box can be found. The Australian Air Force General said they are not looking for a needle in a haystack – they cannot find even where the haystack is at the moment. Hope what the Immarsat data and conclusion has now at least pointed to where the haystack is.

    The US is sending their most modern, sophisticated black box detector, but stretches of the seas in that part of the Indian Ocean are deeper than the maximum depth that the detector can handle.

    So, meantime be thankful that at least the Immarsat people have the technology that could determine where MH370 ended in the millions of square miles of the Indian Ocean. .


  5. I am not going to apologize for being angry. My anger comes out from other people’s uncontrolled anger and unreasonable behaviour – words and deeds. I’m trying to control my anger and will try to express my feelings without using expletives and vituperation.

    I sympathized with the relatives of the MH370 passengers and crew. I prayed for them before the Immarsat finding, still pray for their souls now. But the unreasonable behaviour of those who hurled abuse daily at the Malaysian Investigating Team and those sent to Beijing to comfort and counsel the relatives took away some of my sympathy. I am being frank. I think many others also feel like me.

    Then I read the following statement by China’s Deputy Foreign Minister Xie Hangsheng –

    “We demand the Malaysian side to state the detailed evidence that leads them to this judgement as well as supply all the relevant information and evidence about the satellite data analysis,” Xie said, according to a statement on the ministry’s website.

    “The search and rescue work cannot stop now, we demand the Malaysian side to continue to finish all the work including search and rescue,”

    Now, what in the blazes made him use the word “demand” etc? And talk in a tone as if he/China is a big bully? Doesn’t he know that there are 80 plus others who perished? That Malaysia and 25 other nations have been working to get “the detailed evidence” like aircraft debris? That the Immarsat findings are conclusions based on new methods of analysis that JMD wrote above?

    I’d better stop writing now until I cool down to avoid using words and tone that will drown those of the Chinese official (politician?) stated above. Meanwhile, have a good day everybody.


    • Why are you angry?i am embarrassed by the whole episode. The gomen has not come up with a detailed explanation as to)
      A) WHEN was the sircraft reported missing by MAS. Was it immediately or when they realised it has not landed in beijing?
      B) if immediately, how come they do not follow their emergency response plan? It should be there if this company has a ISO accreditation. Or it could be compulsory under Federal aviation authority. If MAS does not have this,their license can be revoked, surely as these are regularly audited by the authorities. What was MAS operations doing? Isn’t it on standby 24/7?
      C) the dca should also have this emergency response plan.under this book, there should be the hotline to all the direct lines to airforce, neighbouring countries dca etc. And detailed explanation and step by step guide on what to do.
      D) how come the airfore did not intercept/communicate with the aircraft when it was spotted returning back? They have airforce base in gong badak kelantan with SU 27, butterworth with F18 etc. But if the F5 is still in use, they can still use this cheaper plane to check if things are all right. This not the first time our air force was caught asleep. There was another aircraft that flew from the north to the south without any interference from our air authorities in 2008 until eventually the RSAF ( republic, not royal) forced it down at seletar airbase using their F16’s. Singaporeans knew way back then, knew our airforce was sleeping or inept. Or they could even know about this earlier as they could be infringing our airspace with impunity during their practice with no protest or challenge.

      This shows that we are very far away from develop nation mentality. Everything ‘tidak apa’attitude. This episode shows that this mentality causes loss of life, dignity and embarrassment. No wonder we are now referred to as inferior. So much for ketuanan mentality.


  6. To my knowledge I am not sure if we have local expertise to decipher signals between aircraft and satellite station. Hence we just have to believe that the plane ended in the south of the Indian Ocean.
    But my immediate question is why a plane made an air turn back only to end in the southern Indian Ocean if for any reason the pilot needed to do an emergency landing.

    According to the report submitted by our authorities yesterday,the AAIB of UK determined “evidence of a partial handshake between the aircraft and ground station” that followed the last compelete PING eight minutes earlier.
    The Vice President of Inmarsat further questioned what caused this partial handshake.

    My next questions are:-
    1. Did this partial handshake differ from the earlier 6 digital handshakes occurred as determined by the DG of DCA during previous PCs?

    2. Why this partial handshake was detected between plane and GROUND STATION?

    I hope that with these new findings, Inmarsat investigators and together with the international working group set up by our own authorities would be able to highlight the actual path the plane took.
    I really really hope it did not end on the ocean floor of the southern Indian Ocean.
    In the meantime I do so hope that the debris found on the surface of the ocean do not belong to MH370



    • I don’t mind it if the debris is traced to MH370. In fact, I wish it. It will provide real closure. And everybody can move on unhindered by questions on where it went. And after that wait for the black box recovery patiently.


  7. That is just great. So what were the imarsat engineers doing this last couple of years? They were sitting on the buttocks and drinking beer whilst collecting fees from all shipowners and aircrafts? In any case, they now have another service to charge the over burdened subscribers. They can easily add their calculations into their computers upon receiving the ‘bing’ and use this as a secondary locater to confirm gps reading from the crafts. And add another 5% on top.
    By the way, immarast buys their satellites from Beoing. Who knows if both worked hand in hand to deceive the search effort to escape any litigations and claims.


  8. JMD just to digress a little. There so much fuss about the “black box” and that it is difficult to detect when an aircraft ditched or felt into the ocean.

    My twelve year old son suggested that “black box” should be designed such that when airline hit water, it can detach/eject itself from the wreckage and float to the surface. Wouldn’t that be nice?


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