Friday, March 14, 2014

Malaysia 370 Update

There's an article over at Zero Hedge which makes some interesting points about the missing airliner. One of the ones which we've also been thinking is that depending on a third world banana republic to conduct an investigation of this sort is ridiculous.

What seems most imperative to the Malaysians is to not lose face when the world finds out that their security practices are a joke. We've traveled outside the US since 9/11 on foreign airlines and our impression was that for the rest of the world, security is only something that the Americans or American bound airlines need worry about. After all, why would anyone wish harm to an airliner from a Muslim country travelling to a communist one?

Apparently the Acars unit on the aircraft kept sending data bursts even after someone attempted to silence all emitters on the aircraft to thwart tracking attempts. That the Malay authorities summarily rejected the idea of continuing data transmissions when the data is sent directly to the engine manufacturer in England gives away their game. Denying that the sun rises in the east only works when your audience is a dirt poor and illiterate populace.

This suggests that the plane was hijacked for some reason. If it had been a suicidal pilot, why go to the trouble to take over the aircraft and not just fly it into the ocean at that point? Many times suicidal people have some grievance to air and what better way to make your point than to make sure a large hole or field of floating debris is found?

This leaves open the door for the (small) possibility that the aircraft was hijacked and perhaps landed at some unknown destination. We can only hope that this is the case though hiding a 777 would be exceedingly difficult.

There is also the possibility that some intelligence assets were able to somehow track the airliner but are remaining quiet so as to not reveal sources and methods. This we doubt. If the Americans or Chinese knew the direction or disposition of the plane, it would be easy to come up with a cover story to protect sources and methods. This is moving into tin hat territory if there's any truth to it at all.

We can see now that in the aftermath of this incident, airlines will modify on board systems on transoceanic airliners to not allow the deactivation of at least some rudimentary position reporting. There will likely be calls by the usual crowd of know-nothing reporters, politicians and talking heads to install some sort of capability to remotely control an aircraft.

Besides being unfeasible and costing millions per airplane, a new vulnerability such as this would be wonderful for terrorists and hackers to attempt to exploit through a remote location. No doubt the "we must fix it regardless of how unlikely it is to happen again nor how much it costs" crowd will be making themselves heard.

In the meantime, the search for the missing airliner goes on while the friends and relatives of the missing passengers and crew continue to suffer not knowing the whereabouts of their loved ones.

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Capt Rob