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United Kingdom Transportation Technology

How Satellite Company Inmarsat Tracked Down MH370 491

mdsolar (1045926) writes "Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak has announced that, based on satellite data analysis from UK company Inmarsat, Malayian Airlines flight MH370 ended in the southern Indian Ocean, and no one on board survived. 'Effectually we looked at the doppler effect, which is the change in frequency, due to the movement of a satellite in its orbit. What that then gave us was a predicted path for the northerly route and a predicted path the southerly route,' explained Chris McLaughlin, senior vice president of external affairs at Inmarsat. 'What we discovered was a correlation with the southerly route and not with the northern route after the final turn that the aircraft made, so we could be as close to certain as anybody could be in that situation that it went south. Where we then went was to work out where the last ping was, knowing that the aircraft still had some fuel, but that it would have run out before the next automated ping. We don't know what speed the aircraft was flying at, but we assumed about 450 knots.' Inmarsat passed the relevant analysis to the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) yesterday. The cause of the crash remains a mystery."
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How Satellite Company Inmarsat Tracked Down MH370

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  • Little disturbing (Score:5, Interesting)

    by kid_wonder ( 21480 ) <public@@@kscottklein...com> on Monday March 24, 2014 @01:15PM (#46565155) Homepage

    Did the Malaysian government just make a statement to the families based on a statistical probability?

    Or did they make that statement based on debris found that was positively identified to the aircraft.

  • by GodfatherofSoul ( 174979 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @01:27PM (#46565265)

    It just seems like they have information that still doesn't make sense for what we're told are the available resources. The public info just seems so selective as if each government is trying to hold their surveillance cards as tightly as possible. And, intel from an old satellite seems like a cover story. This is all just so...off.

  • by SydShamino ( 547793 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @01:37PM (#46565385)

    I thought that maybe a bunch of spy satellites picked up and stored the broadcasts, and that they can use timestamps from the various receptions to triangulate the position. That's sort of a reverse-active GPS.

    Of course they'll never say "we got this from U.S. and British spy satellites" so they make up something about doppler shift data from a single satellite and hope they find the debris soon to corroborate the story.

    Or maybe they did do it all from the doppler shift data they happened to store. It's at least plausible, and there's no need to create conspiracy theories when they aren't particularly shocking.

  • Re:Flight recorder (Score:5, Interesting)

    by BitZtream ( 692029 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @01:49PM (#46565525)

    CVRs on those aircraft are 2 hours, not 30 minutes.

    What I want to know, is why my phone (the smallest model made) can hold 1100 hours of compressed audio ... but these aircraft using NAND don't hold more than 2 hours of uncompressed audio (you don't want any quality sacrifices or artifacts from compression to screw up your analysis later) in a redundant array ...

    Someones going to tell me that for the 30-40k those black boxes cost ... they can't put some actual storage space in the fucking things?

  • Re:Flight recorder (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @01:50PM (#46565531) Homepage

    And the only hope to prove it was not a software glitch that took offline all the communication systems and locked out the pilots.

    There are no manual overrides for a fly by wire system, and you cant reboot it mid flight.

  • by rockmuelle ( 575982 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @01:52PM (#46565573)

    What's most interesting is that the anonymous reports from the US intelligence community the day after the plane disappeared said that the plane was on the bottom of the Indian Ocean. These claims seemed a little odd at the time since there was no supporting evidence at all and rescuers were still looking for debris on the original flight path. But, it's looking like they were spot on.

    I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that the only real conspiracy in this whole affair is the US govt's cover up of the initial leak. The plane itself likely just suffered a catastrophic failure and lumbered on until it ran out of fuel. But, the US govt also likely tracked it the entire time. That's why someone was able to make a confident pronouncement so quickly. They knew exactly where the plane was, if not exactly what happened. But, this intelligence capability (tracking all flying objects all the time) is probably highly classified. Rather than give it up for a civilian SAR effort, they decided to keep it under wraps, knowing that eventually the plane would be found and the capability is far more useful if no one knows it exists.

  • Re:Flight recorder (Score:4, Interesting)

    by bemenaker ( 852000 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @02:02PM (#46565669)
    You are making a PRESUMPTION that the transponders were turned off by hand. There is still the possibility of a fire or some other case. This is why recovery of the FDR's is so important. The pilots may not have been on the radio, but the FDR's record everything they say. The conversations between flight crew is crucial, along with all the airplane data.
  • Re:Flight recorder (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Collective 0-0009 ( 1294662 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @04:32PM (#46567447)
    While this has captured much attention, quite honestly it is a yawner. Did you know that approximately 150,000 other people died that day? I'm willing to bet more than 2500 were preventable in some manner, making that 10x more important than MH370.

    When you step back and actually review numbers, many things seem insignificant, if you have no personal feelings or emotions tying you to the event. Like this post, discussion, and website.

10.0 times 0.1 is hardly ever 1.0.