•  Aero Dispatch and Training

What happened to Flight 370?
TRAIN FOR EMERGENCIES | March 24th, 2014

To Daytona Jets Flight Students, Past and Present,

The disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has come into focus as specific pieces of evidence have been released. This evidence discredits all of the conjecture from the MMM to retired military and political figures.

The Pilots were not the bad guys and in fact were faced with the most heinous of all air-borne emergencies.

Unlike lead, which melts at 621•F, the very large cargo of lithium ion batteries the cash strapped (51% Malaysia government owned) 777 was carrying, experienced an un-commanded and runaway meltdown at 357•F.

The transponder and ACARS weren't turned off, their respective antenna's were burned through, unbeknown to the Pilot's during their last VHF transmission. Although not reported, within the next 30 minutes the Pilots would have begun using their HF radio, performing routine, but mandatory compulsory position reports. Specifically transmitting:
Malaysian 370 (see bullets below)


En Route Position Reporting

The pilot of an IFR or controlled VFR flight is required to make position reports over any compulsory reporting points specified on IFR charts, and also over any other reporting point specified by ATC.

Malaysia Airlines Flight 370
The position report shall include the following:
  • the identification of the aircraft;
  • the identification of the position;
  • the time over the reporting point in UTC;
  • the altitude or flight level;
  • the type of flight plan or flight itinerary filed;
  • the name of the next reporting point and the ETA over that point in UTC;
  • the name only of the next succeeding reporting point along the route of flight; and
  • any additional information requested by ATC or deemed necessary by the pilot.
Missing Malaysian Flight 370
It should be noted that the compulsory reporting points are depicted on charts as solid triangles, while "on request" reporting points are open triangles. Obviously, position reporting over the latter are not made unless requested by ATC.

A second note concerning position reports is that compulsory position reporting is not to be done once an aircraft has been "radar identified" by ATC. Pilots will be advised by ATC when to resume normal position reporting practices.

Missing Boeing 777 Malaysia
Finally, if the estimated time for the next applicable reporting point is found to be in error in excess three minutes from that advised to ATC, a revised estimated time should be reported as soon as possible.

Mach Number Clearances and Reports

Clearances on turbojet aircraft may include a specified Mach number. If the Mach number cannot be conformed with, ATC must be informed when the clearance is issued. If, after acceptance, a Mach number cannot be conformed with, ATC must be notified as soon as possible. Where a Mach number is specified in a clearance, the Mach number must be included in each position report.

True Airspeed Requirements

ATC shall be notified as soon as practicable of any intended change in the TAS contained in an IFR flight plan or flight itinerary which is greater than 5%.


Within minutes of their last VHF Transmission, the VHF and HF Antennas were likewise also burned through, permanently shutting down the flight crews ability to communicate with the outside World. NOTE: The Captain of another aircraft reached the crew of Flight 370 "just after 1:30 am" to relay Vietnamese Air Traffic Controller's request for the crew to contact them on another frequency; the Captain said he was able to establish contact, but just heard "mumbling" and static. This is precisely what a VHF Radio Transmitter would sound like once it is decoupled from its antenna.

The confusing part here is that cargo compartment smoke alarms (mandatory after Value Jet/Everglades) should have alerted the crew before now of the cargo compartment fire. My thoughts are that poor mx (airline out of money) and a cool burning fire are open variables.

Ultimately, the forward cargo compartment, replete with powerful pneumatic heat, depressurized. The Captain rapidly climbed the ship to its service ceiling, FL450 in an attempt to starve the fire of oxygen. In Oceanic conditions, what are the Captains options.
  1. Descend and feed the fire much more Oxygen.
  2. Descend even further and ditch into the sea at night (and ditch in the middle of nowhere to boot... ugh!)
  3. Climb and remove as much Oxygen from the fire as possible.
What would you do? A tough call! Remember, we climb to overfly severe icing regularly so climbing is in our psyche to alleviate certain ship threatening conditions. We've done this on nearly every flight this Winter, as both Copilots and Students can attest.

Starved for oxygen, the fire diminished, but not before compromising the pax pressure vessel. The Captain turned back (we normally turn to our side for quicker visual cues) and initiated an emergency descent down to 12,000' (this is a regulatory requirement for unpressurized flight). So far so good. I'd have done the same.

Eventually, the GPS Antenna's must have been affected, although they usually run ship topside, facing the satellites, but perhaps the 777's cabling runs aft and low from the E&E Comp before winding their way up to the top of the fuselage.

Likewise the ADIRU's (Air Data Inertial Reference Units, which predate GPS) should have maintained aircraft position telemetry, however, perhaps the cargo fire penetrated the E&E Compartment taking out all E-Nav ability.

What was left was Pilotage and Dead Reckoning in an "Electronic World." Hard to believe, but a completely dark E-NAV/COM jumbo wide-body jet in the modern era at night and over the Ocean.

The Flightcrew did their best to remember their initial training... the Captain anyway... The Copilot would have been trained in the GPS era and probably shared the same attitude many new Flight Students have. Why do I need to learn to navigate? We have GPS now (often said with a confident swagger)!

Whichever the case, the Flightcrew did their best to return to Kuala Lumpur, steering clear of mountainous terrain and weather. Unfortunately, circumstances intervened and they proceeded to experience the fate of Amelia Earhart and Flight 19 (remember the training flight of TBM Avenger Bombers off the East Coast of Florida during WWII).

Although they all succumb to fuel starvation, I do not wish to discredit Flight MH370's Crew. As it is possible that if the fire migrated into the E&E Comp below the Flight Deck, the Pilots may have been forced to sit in back with the pax's, eventually all on Oxygen (until it ran out) while the Boeing 777's EFCS (auto pilot) flew the aircraft to her Southern flame out point.

A truly chilling tale with an absolute probable cause. Again, everyone following the rules (specifically in this case, airline mgt/dispatch) would have avoided this outcome.


T.R. Vreeland, CP

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