Malaysian airlines missing plane

Discussion in 'Hangar Flying' started by oriol, Mar 12, 2014.

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  1. Mar 12, 2014 #1

    oriol

    oriol

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    Is There A Better Way To Track Aircraft During Flight? : The Two-Way : NPR


    It is somehow amazing to realize that with all the available technology still airliners are not tracked during the whole flight. Let´s hope the airplane is found soon so that the causes of the accident can be determined.


    Although any theory of the probable cause of the accident is pure speculation without the flight recorder etc. Yesterday night on the TV news an "expert" said that airliners can carry explosives or nuclear items apart from passenger´s baggage, wich can lead to a sudden spontaneous explosion in midair...


    Even without knowing what went wrong during the flight if it was a pilot mistake or whatever. I can´t help thinking that sooner or later airliners are going to be fully automated with no human on the controls like some modern subways. I know it sounds horrible but I bet that it would be cheaper and safer for the airlines to operate UAVS rather than manned airplanes.



    Oriol
     
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  2. Mar 12, 2014 #2

    JamesG

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    That is a horrible idea. A computer is much easier to hack than a human being.
     
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  3. Mar 13, 2014 #3

    N8053H

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    I would not ride in one. But then again I would not let a computer car drive me but from my understanding this is the future. No steering wheel. Give it the address and it takes you, windows go black and you watch the football game or play a video game.

    Tony
     
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  4. Mar 13, 2014 #4

    Topaz

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    Given the realities of computer security today, it'll be a frigid day in Hades that I fly on an "unpiloted" airliner, or even one where the pilots/"systems operators" don't have the concrete ability to override the automatic systems and fly manually. We're already in the realm today of serious discussions about the possibilities of ill-intentioned people hacking and sabotaging the computerized controls in modern automobiles: disabling the brakes, tripping the "throttle by wire" over to full throttle upon command, etc. That's reality today, and the "perfectly secure" computer system will never exist. The same applies to aircraft, and aircraft design firms have no more experience or culture of computer-systems security for on-board processors than the auto guys do.

    Airplanes can be hijacked and crashed by hand, of course, but, as JamesG said, it's much, much easier to do it to a computer system. And once there are data links to the ground that have any connection whatsoever to the flight planning and flight control systems - any connection at all, instead of completely air-gapped - the "bad guys" will be able to pull it off without ever seeing or getting on the aircraft.

    No thanks.

    The key to airliner safety is, like it always has been, better and redundant systems and better flight and recurring training for the flight crew. End of story.
     
  5. Mar 13, 2014 #5

    bl_dg

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    Also surprised to find out that all commercial flights aren't actively tracked. Or that the pilot could turn off the transponder. Or that transponders could "sometimes" send the wrong code. If not tracked by radar, we certainly have the tech to track by satellite.

    IIRC, GE and other engine makers can monitor the engines -in flight- . If we can have plug-in tattle-tale chips for our cars that report our driving data to the insurance company, Boeing should have the same thing on an airliner. Always ON.

    Or how about this: Using the UAV technology, an airliner has a hi-jack emergency button(s) that temporarily disables flight deck controls and turns them over to a UAV-type team. Hit the button, airplanes squawks emergency, starts collision-avoidance mode and goes to a preset altitude and circles for an hour. Kind of like On-Star crossed with the "emergency stop" pull handles on trains and subways, except the police show up in F-16s or F-18s.
     
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  6. Mar 13, 2014 #6

    JamesG

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    Tens of thousands of commercial aircraft fly millions of miles across areas of the Earth with no cell or even satellite connectivity sometimes. Aircraft have to have manual control backups in the even of a power or computer failure. The odds of the former occurring per flight hours is orders of magnitude greater than a hijacking event. If your "Cops in fighter planes" show up, then what? Are they going to shoot down an aircraft full of people to get at a couple of bad guys? Watch the plane run out of fuel and crash?

    Life is not safe and all the gnashing of teeth and elaborate expense to try to make it so is for naught.
     
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  7. Mar 13, 2014 #7

    1Bad88

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    Yep, nobody gets out alive!
     
  8. Mar 13, 2014 #8

    Brian Clayton

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    Its like marriage, 50% might end in divorce, but 50% ends in death!
     
  9. Mar 13, 2014 #9

    skeeter_ca

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    Well since they still haven't found any wreakage i'm starting to believe it might be a hijacking and the plane was simply flown away to a secure location.

    skeeter
     
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  10. Mar 13, 2014 #10

    Lucrum

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    There is that possibility. Though I would have thought we'd heard from the hijackers by now.
     
  11. Mar 13, 2014 #11

    Topaz

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    A secure location, large enough to land a 777, where there wouldn't be a leak from someone in the neighborhood? I'm having a hard time imagining that.
     
  12. Mar 13, 2014 #12

    lurker

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    unless they have something special in mind for the aircraft. some sort of surprise.
     
  13. Mar 13, 2014 #13

    autoreply

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    I wouldn't be surprised by a shoot-down, given how poor several of those countries see to do in the search/track effort (even the USN shot down an airliner before...). An unforeseen catastrophic event (like TWA800) seems also plausible as does the hypoxia scenario as happened before on the Greek airliner.
     
  14. Mar 13, 2014 #14

    Lucrum

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    I've been asked several times by friends for my opinion on what happened. But at this point there as been so much misinformation that it seems pointless to even speculate any more.
     
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  15. Mar 13, 2014 #15

    Geek1945

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    All good points yet, lets reexamine where we are at today. 99% of modern elevators are digitally controlled should we use the stairs? If you elect not to have ON-STAR and other online services which interface with your car's electronics then just how are you going to corrupt the EEPROM or PIC (firmware driven electronic chips) in your car? As mentioned GE, Rolls Royce (BMW), P&W engines are all connected by satellites should we disable that feature? We all know intelligence agencies all over the world are listening in on our mobile phones should we all stomp them as in movies? Let's disable those military computers too then the Taliban will stand a fighting chance! Every check written is electronically processed by Federal Reserve Bank Clearing Houses so let's all use debit cards or carry cash so a thugs have a better chance to make a living? It's well known the USSR continued to use vacuum tube technology in their military hardware because it's EMP resistant should we follow their lead? Virtually all over the air entertainment transmitters are unmanned and remotely controlled from distant stations so to for cellar so let's not use those either. Let's return to compasses and paper maps because GPS can be hacked. How about tossing ELT's which use digital signal processor to maintain precise frequency control an accelerometers to activate? Forget those computer equipped glass cockpits those gauges were good enough.

    Now let's unplug all those neat electronic appliances you're wife depends on because they might get hacked she'll just love it. If you have a monitored security house let's disconnect that too. Meanwhile the hackers have gotten in to our electricity grid so break out the gas lanterns and propane camping stove since they shutdown the unmanned gas pumping plants too. Oops, forget pay at the pump, carry plenty of cash too.

    Sorry guys & gals them good old days won't fly today, just ask the 18-49 year old's. I remember when the Stockholm rammed the Andrea Dora in the NYC shipping lane no AIS then, bet you thought only airplanes had ID systems . Just imagine with today's electronic global trade how many ships are dependent on electronics on the bridge and engine room, forget cheap clothes and sneakers? While we are unplugging let's shutdown all those digital assembly robots and CNC machinery.

    After discharge in 1968 I applied at Ford's assembly plant, when interview I mess-up when mentioning modernizing auto electrical systems. "Well our vehicle electrical systems are proven not needing updating" I guess he went over to GM and was promoted to CEO.

    Ever since I've been in arc & sparks business it's been a steady stream of attending new equipment schools. One of our comm techs accused me of being a professional student yet, in digital world it's a logarithmic curve just about when you figure you know all cell phone features there's a new model with 10x more features and 18-49 year old's wouldn't be caught dead with a 2 year old phone.

    Over 20 years ago I watched a FAA video 3/4" Beta-max on Lockheed testing a total automate flight from LAX to ORD the two pilot only taxied to runway since data was so variable then engaged the automated system flight control and watched the L1011 TO fly and land at ORD. Why because those darn computer constantly monitored flight conditions to achieve maximum efficiency and I mean those fuel sucking kerosene heaters outside. Darn that flight computer didn't worry about getting any sleep, bio-breaks, coffee, or usual human needs just flying that plane!

    Did any of you see news with a car jacking with a 4 year old in the back seat? I believe he wrecked at least 4 other vehicles. So if one happened to be yours, guess who is going to have it repaired? Even worse do you believe the hi-jacker is going to reimburse you?

    Finally, I recall it was bio-processing that crashed 2 passenger jets into the WTC. Sorry to disagree I'll take my chances with computers any day. Enough said Ed
     
  16. Mar 13, 2014 #16

    Topaz

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    Nobody is saying "computers are bad". What at least I'm saying is that computer security issues are real, and the threat is growing every day. It doesn't take much perusal of the news to see that. Given that aircraft manufacturers have a culture of performance in on-board computer systems, rather than security, entrusting complete control of an aircraft to a system that can be compromised from the ground, from thousands of miles away, is simply foolhardy. Microsoft, Apple, and Google have decades more experience with computer security issues, and they still can't keep all the creative hacks at bay. Boeing, Airbus, and the like haven't even looked at the matter yet. What chance do they stand against the kind of creativity that regularly hacks the Pentagon, Sony, Target, and so on? Little or none at all. They simply don't have the culture for this kind of security in any realistically foreseeable future. I don't imagine anyone will allow an "automated" airliner that can't be redirected by "authorized personnel" from the ground and, if "authorized personnel" can do it, any connection to the ground, no matter how well "firewalled", or any connection to any other computer system on the aircraft that receives instructions from the ground is a possible threat vector for a software hack to take over control of the aircraft or simply fry the control system altogether.

    As you described in part of your missive, computer flight systems have the potential to increase safety and efficiency. But if there isn't a well-trained and current (another problem for another thread) pilot on-board with a great big red "I'll fly it manually, thanks!" button that completely cuts the "automated pilot" out of the loop, I'm not getting on that airplane. A pilotless airliner? Not for me in this lifetime. There are too many bad guys with too many skills not to take advantage of that situation.

    If someone hacks my smartphone, that's annoying. If someone hacks the flight controls of an airliner... Well, we have 9/11/2001 to demonstrate what they can do with such an "asset".
     
  17. Mar 13, 2014 #17

    bmcj

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    Hijacking (or bomb) are very real possibilities based on some of the info reported by the media so far (though we all know how innacurate and kneejerk the media can be as stories unfold). Some of the reports say that they learned that two of the passengers boarded with stolen passports, and one was later found to be an Iranian man. Some of the newest reports hint at the plane changing course westward and flying for another 5 hours after dropping off the radar. This would put them somewhere in the middle of the Indian Ocean.

    If hijacked, one reason to explain the lack of communications is that the hijacker may have run the plane out of fuel enroute by diverting to a location farther than the fuel levels allowed (airlines typically carry just enough fuel to reach their alternate with a reserve). An extra 5 hours of flight might have exhausted their fuel.

    A shootdown is possible, but it has to be coupled with a concerted cover-up by the offending country to keep it quiet this long (unless it were an individual acting alone). I kind of doubt a catastrophe or hypoxia because it doesn't well explain the plane missing from its original location and heading while running without transponder, though I can't rule it out (possibly an electrical failure of somekind).


    Silly boy... anyone who watches the movies knows they throw the phones from the window of a moving car.
     
  18. Mar 13, 2014 #18

    JamesG

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    A shoot down isn't likely. None of the nations around where it was overflying were stupid about security, nor are there any political tension that could get an airliner on its regular run confused for an invader. No MANPAD could reach that high and any big SAM would have been accounted for by a nation state.

    My leading theory is that a depressurization occurred either from a mundane failure or an attack of some sort and at least the cockpit oxygen supply failed and incapacitated the flight crew. With the armored cockpit door, there would be no way for anyone aft to get into the cockpit, so the plane flew on either on autopilot or trimmed for level flight until it eventually ran out of gas and crashed. Off autopilot "ghosting" is the worst possible scenario because it could literally be anywhere within a 300+ nm radius.

    RIP to the passengers and crew. :(
     
  19. Mar 13, 2014 #19

    Topaz

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    The authorities have since determined that both of the guys traveling on stolen passports - including the Iranian - were attempting to seek asylum in the west. I think it likely we can rule them out.
     
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  20. Mar 13, 2014 #20

    bmcj

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    I had not heard that yet, but it certainly sounds plausible.
     

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