MH370. Our response to the latest theory

The newly published scientific theory about the final resting place of MH370 is interesting but we still do not have the full story of what happened in the few hours following the disappearance of the aircraft on that fateful night.
I hate to be repetitive but I still want to know why the Royal Malaysian Air Force and the Five Eyes surveillance centre at Penang did not take any action to identify the "unknown primary radar target" which was tracking directly toward the most sensitive defence facilities in the entire region that night and then took more than 2 days to announce to the World that they had been tracking this "unknown target".  Really??!! 

I cannot believe that they did not consider the possibility that it was a threat to their security if they really didn’t know its identity, or if they did know, why did they not think the information was relevant to the search for MH370 that was headline news in  the furthest corners of the World?  

Did they send up an interceptor to check the identity of the unknown aircraft?  

If they did, what action resulted from that? 

If they did not send up an interceptor as the Minister for Defence declared on BBC News, (“because if I had sent up an interceptor and shot it down, I would be in even more trouble than I am now” as he said to the reporter) then what punishment was meted out to the incompetent officers who were on duty at the time?  

Criminal negligence is the only possible description that fits their behaviour and actions if they did not take essential steps to identify the incoming potential threat.  And then the behaviour of the Malaysian authorities in the subsequent days can only be described as totally incompetent and lacking in any normal duty of care or responsibility to the passengers, crew, relatives and friends of those on board MH370.

The scientific theory now being promulgated that the aircraft is, in fact, west of the Australian mainland and just off the seventh arc, is interesting but I am still tipping that one day, the aircraft wreckage will be found a long way further north! 

Thursday, 24 August 2017
Posted by Des Ross

Truth Vs Theory. Are we still looking for MH370 in the wrong place?


Are we still trying to fix square pegs into round holes?  

Are we trying to make facts fit questionable theories to save face and justify the spending of Millions of Dollars?

I think we should remind ourselves that INMARSAT officials have stated that their calculations of the possible position of MH370 have been based on new theories which are unproven and which, they have said, are NOT GUARANTEED TO BE ACCURATE.

The Australian Minister for Transport said, earlier, that the INMARSAT calculations provided the best theory on the table and, in the view of his experts, the best guidance that was available to determine the search area.

However, this is the first search of its kind to be based on relatively flimsy science which has been used to justify expenditure in excess of USD 100 million to date.

Personally, I have never accepted the south Indian Ocean location as a viable crash site and my gut feeling, and experience, has, and will continue to tell me that the aircraft went down to the west of the
Malaysian mainland without proper control of a human pilot. 

People seem to have forgotten the reports of eyewitnesses on an oil rig and on a yacht, seeing a flaming object in the night sky, on that night, in the area to the west of Malaysia.  But the scientific theory could not allow these reports to be correct and they were discarded.

Now, we have seen that some aircraft parts have been discovered on beaches of Mozambique, Reunion Island, and other east African coastal locations.

* Section of a control panel called a flaperon, normally attached to the wing, was found on Reunion Island in July 2015 - confirmed as debris in September 2015.

* Part of a horizontal stabilizer from the tail, found in Mozambique in December 2015.

* Section of a stabilizer panel with "No Step" stencil, found in Mozambique in February 2016.

      * Section of engine cowling bearing a Rolls-Royce logo, found in March 2016 in Mossel Bay, South Africa.
A Fragment of an interior door panel found in Rodrigues Island, Mauritius in March 2016.

The pundits are now saying that these discoveries prove the accuracy of the search area because the parts have had time to drift with the ocean currents from the general search area in the south Indian Ocean.

Well now - isn’t it also true that these same parts may have come from somewhere much closer?   How about a crash site to the west of Malaysia? 

I have said since day one that the aircraft was not under full control and was flying on a course set on the Flight Management System but with incapacitated pilots unable to make changes.  The aircraft descended to a low altitude because the pilots had set an emergency descent when a catastrophic event occurred on the aircraft but they had been unable to complete their manoeuvre due to incapacitation. 

The aircraft then continued on a pre-set, or random, heading until its descent took it into the water to the west of Malaysia.   Some theories say that it was under full control and even say that a suicidal pilot did a circuit around his home island.  Rubbish!!!   The home island was beside the highly sensitive international “5 eyes” surveillance facility and the major Penang air force base, the home of the RMAF and it is highly unlikely that the Malaysian military would have allowed such “loitering” of an unidentified aircraft in their airspace.   

If they did, it shows their lack of interest in security or their incompetence in following unidentified traffic and comes back to my much earlier questions about “what happened in the first 4 hours when MH370 disappeared”?

Now we see reports which have not had wide circulation, that 6 Swiss Citizens have formally testified to the Swiss authorities, that when making a cruise between Perth and Singapore via Jakarta, the following evidence was spotted on March 12 while approaching the Sunda Strait:

·         1430LT - latitude 6° S, longitude 105° E, speed 17,7 knots:   life jacket, food trays, papers, pieces of polystyrene, wallets,
·         1500LT:   a huge white piece of 6 meters long to 2,5 meters wide with other debris,
·         1530LT:   two masts one metre in length with small red and blue flags on top,
·         2030LT - latitude 5° S, longitude 107° E, speed 20,2 knots.

In the days before scientists sitting in a laboratory in Europe could do mathematical calculations to direct the search effort of all concerned, we would have used basic search methods based on the last known location of the missing aircraft.  These would have started from position reports and radar traces available from civil and military radar units.  Today, satellite imagery would also be used, if available.

The searchers might then have seen the same items as reported by the Swiss nationals.  In any case, such reports would have immediately been investigated further.  Were these reports checked at the time?   Did search vessels scour the area?

So, it is a good thing that parts of the aircraft are starting to appear and maybe they will lead to the discovery of the main wreckage, but should we recognise that the actual crash site may be much closer to the parts discovered than the south Indian Ocean??

I firmly believe that whatever remaining funds are available for searching should be used to search that area between Malaysia and the location of the parts which have been discovered.

Desmond Ross

28th May 2016
Tuesday, 31 May 2016
Posted by Des Ross

The Vanishing: GQ article on MH370

A great article from GQ magazine, with collaboration with Des Ross. Read the article here.
Monday, 30 May 2016
Posted by Des Ross

Egypt Air MS804 Crash. Des Ross on TRT Television

Des Ross was interviewed on Turkish TV about the crash of Egypt Air MS804 and the possible causes. Watch the full interview here 
Saturday, 21 May 2016
Posted by Des Ross

Analysis of the German Wings Flight 9525 air crash investigation report

Des Ross was interviewed by Radio Sputnik on the findings of the BEA air crash investigation report on German Wings Flight 9525 and the implications for medical record confidentiality for pilots. You can listen to Des's comments and analysis here

Sunday, 20 March 2016
Posted by Des Ross

DRA International becomes world business partner with ACI Asia Pacific

Sydney 19th Nov 2015.   DRA International announces today that it has become a world business partner of the Asia Pacific group of Airports Council International (ACI). ACI is the only global trade representative of the worlds airports. Established in 1991, ACI represents airports with Governments and international organisations such as ICAO, develops standards, policies and recommended practises for airports, and provides training to raise global airport standards.

More information on ACI can be found at its website

Wednesday, 18 November 2015
Posted by Des Ross

Aviation Safety v Commercial Profits

It is 17th July, 2015, the first anniversary of the destruction of Malaysian Airlines MH17 in Ukrainian airspace.  It is generally accepted that the aircraft was shot down by a missile fired from the ground by one of the combatants, although Russia claims that it was a Ukrainian fighter aircraft with an air to air missile.  Whatever is finally proven, it is a criminal act which must be properly investigated and the perpetrators condemned.
But who is responsible in the end?  The man who fired the missile, the politicians who are prolonging the war on the ground, the Ukrainian government for failing to close their block of airspace to civil airlines, the airline itself and the Captain of the aircraft for having decided to fly through that airspace in the full knowledge that there was a war in progress??   Who should be held responsible?
Perhaps it is a flawed system of aviation safety being challenged at every turn by commercial considerations and immense financial pressures.
What has this issue of air safety versus commercial pressures got to do with MH17 you may ask?   Well, actually quite a lot! 
Malaysian Airlines, like many others, would have been aiming to fly the shortest route between Amsterdan and Kuala Lumpur on that fateful night.  In the highly competitive world of airline operations, it aimed to reduce operating costs by minimising the amoung of fuel burned during the flight.  So it planned a direct flight which took it over the Ukarainian territory.  They had been told it was safe to fly above 32,000 feet (considered to be above the height that any weapons known to be in use in the conflict, could reach).  Other airlines also followed the same route before and after the shoot down occurred.  However, several airlines chose to avoid the airspace altogether and flew around Ukrainian airspace, so adding some time to their flight plan and burning more fuel which would add to the cost of their flights.
There have been cases of pilots being rewarded with cash bonuses by their airlines if they saved fuel.  This is an incentive to make decisions based on economic return rather than the best safety case.  It is an abhorrent concept and totally contrary to a proper safety culture.
It is well known in the airline industry that profit margins are slim.  The liberalisation of airspace over the last couple of decades and the relaxation of restrictions on the number of airlines allowed to operate has generated an intensely competitive market for the airline companies.  Witness the massive discounts offered by the airlines to attract your business.  It is now possible to fly between two destinations for significantly less than it would cost to drive your car over the same distance.
Some major national carriers have gone through very difficult economic times and you can see that almost all of the major airlines in USA have been through, or are currently operating under Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
Many airlines have been forced to take decisions and form alliances which would have been unthinkable in past years, because of competitie pressures and the removal of national government protection which they previously enjoyed.
Many new passengers, who have never flown before, have been attracted to the skies by lower cost travel and businesses are reducing their travel budgets by paying for the lowest available fares.
But the big question now is, should you feel safe when flying on a very low cost ticket or even a free one?   Do the same rules not apply to air travel as to other commodities?   Isn’t it true that you get what you pay for?
Airlines generally are categorised as “Legacy Carriers” being the old established and well known airlines of many nations which are usually the national flag carriers, and which provide a full in flight service with well experienced crews.  This experience and service usually comes at a higher price to the passenger.
And then we have the relatively new “LOW COST carriers” or LCCs or Budget Airlines.  Think about the names, “LOW COST” and “BUDGET”.  Doesn’t that tell you something about their culture?   Of course there is not a single low cost carrier in the entire World which would agree that it operates at anything less than the same full and professional safety standard required by international and national regulations and by the insurance companies.   But it worries me when an airline considers charging for a visit to the toilet during a flight, or when I have to pay a flight attendant for a blanket when the cabin temperature is set too low.
Pilots salaries are lower now than they were before the advent of LCCs and there are some airlines where the pilots pay for the opportunity to gain flight experience on their services[1].  How many passengers would know that, sometimes, their pilot is also paying for his flight?
But we have national aviation regulators, or civil aviation authorities to ensure that all the rules and regulations are followed and to protect the innocent passenger who does not know anything about the technicalities and actual dangers of flight.  Or do we?
It is an unfortunate fact that many of the Worlds’ national aviation regulators are lagging behind the industry and are not sufficiently resourced by their governments.  They are often short staffed, e.g. not enough air safety inspectors or air traffic management specialists and frequently the regulators technology is not up to pace with the industry, yet they are required to approve and certify air operations, pilots, engineeers, and many other critical operational matters which, in some cases, they are not properly qualified to do.
Some countries are hiring in, on a part-time basis, inspectors who are actually pilots with the airlines they are required to regulate.   Is it possible that there is a conflict of interest here?
Now turn back to MH17, QZ8501 and other similar incidents.
Are the pilots under pressure from the management of the company to save money “at all costs”?   Do they have to undergo an inquisition if they should divert or turn back from their assigned route for “safety reason”?  
The safety culture of any organisation, particularly an air operator, starts with the senior management and directors of the company.  The CEO and the Chairman are responsible for ensuring that a good safety culture should permeate the entire organisation.  But, in the reality of the commercial World we live in, is this entirely possible?    Often the directors and senor management of airline businesses may not be aware of the costs of having an accident.
It soon becomes apparent, if they have an accident that it is much more expensive and disastrous than the costs of enuring that safety is the first priority.
If the bottom line is the most important issue for the management, it is likely to be communicated to the operations staff and pilots of the airline and they will feel pressured to make decisions based on financial considerations rather than pure safety considerations.  Some airlines even try to take the safety decision from the pilots and require them to radio their operations staff for approval to divert or turn back.
Should MH17 have diverted and flown an extra hour to ensure it was clear of the war zone?   Should the pilots of Air Asia QZ8501 have turned back to Surabaya when they saw the massive storm system on their path and so avoided placing the aircraft in a dangerous situation? 
In either of these cases would the pilots have still had their jobs the following day or would they have been penalised for adding to the costs of their flights?

Monday, 5 October 2015
Posted by Des Ross

Aviation Project Delivery

We specialise in the design, management and delivery of complex aviation projects. We have successfully delivered major aviation developments for the European Union, ICAO, Price Waterhouse Cooper, Adam Smith International, PNG Government, Pacific Aviation Safety Office, Airports Vanuatu Limited, The Asian Development Bank, and the Indian Director General of Civil Aviation

Aviation Recuitment Services

We are experts in recruitment services for the Aviation Industry in management, operations and aviation security (AVSEC).

Public speaking

We have Aviation and Travel experts in our team who will will appear as speakers at your conference or event. Subjects include Aviation mishaps, The difficulties faced in working in remote areas, and much more. Contact us for more details, we can tailor the talk to your needs.

Coming Soon

Safety and local information briefings for staff to visit, or be based in, countries in Africa, Asia or the Pacific.

- Copyright © Desmond Ross and Associates - Designed by ffp -