18 votes

From An Expert...Flt 370

From a retired AF colonel, now a pilot for AA, flying the Boeing 777.

A quick update with what I know about the Malaysia 777 disappearance. The Boeing 777 is the airplane that I fly. It is a great, safe airplane. It has, for the most part, triple redundancy in most of its systems, so if one complete system breaks (not just parts of a system), there are usually 2 more to carry the load. It’s also designed to be easy to employ so third world pilots can successfully fly it. Sometimes, even that doesn’t work…as the Asiana guys in San Francisco showed us. A perfectly good airplane on a beautiful, sunny day…and they were able to crash it. It took some doing, but they were able to defeat a bunch of safety systems and get it to where the airplane would not help them and the pilots were too stupid/scared/unskilled/tired to save themselves

There are many ways to fly the 777 and there are safety layers and redundancies built into the airplane. It is tough to screw up and the airplane will alert you in many ways (noises, alarms, bells and whistles, plus feed back thru the control yoke and rudder pedals and throttles. In some cases the airplane’s throttles ‘come alive’ if you are going too slow for a sustained period of time) All designed to help. But, it’s also non-intrusive. If you fly the airplane in the parameters it was designed for, you will never know these other things exist. The computers actually ‘help’ you and the designers made it for the way pilots think and react. Very Nice.

Now to Malaysia. There are many communication systems on the airplane. 3 VHF radios. 2 SatCom systems. 2 HF radio systems. Plus Transponders and active, ‘real time’ monitoring through CPDLC (Controller to Pilot Data Link Clearance) and ADS B(Air Data Service) through the SatCom systems and ACARS (Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System) thru the VHF, HF and SatCom systems. The air traffic controllers can tell where we are, speed, altitude, etc as well as what our computers and flight guidance system have set into our control panels. Big Brother for sure. However, most of these things can be turned off.

But, there are a few systems that can’t be turned off and one, as reported by the WSJ, is the engine monitoring systems (not sure what the acronym for that is, but I’m sure there is one….it’s aviation…there has to be an acronym). The Malaysia airplane, like our 777-200’s, uses Rolls Royce Trent Engines (as a piece of trivia….Rolls Royce names their motors after rivers….because they always keep on running) Rolls Royce leases these motors to us and monitors them all the time they are running. In fact, a few years ago, one of our 777’s developed a slow oil leak due and partial equipment failure. It wasn’t bad enough to set off the airplane’s alerting system, but RR was looking at it on their computers. They are in England, they contact our dispatch in Texas, Dispatch sends a message to the crew via SatCom in the North Pacific, telling them that RR wants them to closely monitor oil pressure and temp on the left engine. Also, during the descent, don’t retard the throttle to idle…keep it at or above a certain rpm. Additionally, they wanted the crew to turn on the engine ‘anti ice’ system as this heats some of the engine components.

The crew did all of that and landed uneventfully, but after landing and during the taxi in, the left engine shut itself down using its redundant, computerized operating system that has a logic tree that will not allow it to be shut down if the airplane is in the air…only on the ground. Pretty good tech. The point was, that RR monitors those engines 100% of the time they are operating. The WSJ reported that RR indicated the engines on the Malaysia 777 were running normally for 4 to 5 hours after the reported disappearance. Malaysia denies this. We shall see.
Parting shot. If you travel by air, avoid the third world airlines. Their operators and maintenance are substandard. Substandard when traveling by Bus or Boat isn’t as bad when the engines quit. You just stop on the water or by the side of the road. Not so in airplanes. My advice….if traveling by air use 1st world airlines. So, that leaves USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, most of Europe, Japan and just a few others. Avoid the rest….just my opinion. If you get a real deal on air fare from ‘Air Jabooti’…skip it. Oh, there are a lot of the ‘developing’ countries that use expatriate pilots from the 1st world. Emirates and Air Jordan come to mind and are very safe. As is Cathay Pacific. Air Pakistan and Egypt Air…not so much. Do the research or just drop me a note. I’ll give you my opinion.

And don't EVER get in an Airbus!

That is all.

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Just curious

If you were given 10 shots at hitting an target the width of, let's say, a World Trade Center tower, while accelerating over 500 mph and going down to around 1000 feet, how many times would you hit the center of the target?

I know it's not the topic of discussion and I do thank you for your contribution, but I'm curious about this.

ChristianAnarchist's picture

I have only flown small

I have only flown small planes but this is one of the "objections" that I heard a lot of people saying about the events of 911 even days after it happened. I wanted to find out myself and I had a copy of MS Flight Simulator on my computer at home so I selected the airliner (don't remember exactly which one) and flew a route into one of the twin towers. Tried it several times and was able to hit the mark every time with full throttle. I really don't think it's that hard to do. I think my total flying time was about 230 hours and all of those in single engine prop planes. The route the "plane" that hit the pentagon took was harder though and I don't think I could have flown that route...

Beware the cult of "government"...

Hey thanks for this awesome

Hey thanks for this awesome post. I love when our local DP experts come out on certain topics. Wish we saw more of this! +1 upvote for you!

Also, what is your best guess

Also, what is your best guess on what happened?

Loved Your Post!

Thanks. :)

And when was the last Airbus that crashed?

It seems for every Airbus accident there are 10 in Boeing aircraft.

Up until that comment I was really buying what this guy was saying.

"We have allowed our nation to be over-taxed, over-regulated, and overrun by bureaucrats. The founders would be ashamed of us for what we are putting up with."
-Ron Paul

I don't know about the safety

I don't know about the safety records, but the only airbus plane I ever flew in reminded me of a Chicago L train the way it rattled and shook. The "bus" part of the name is very appropriate for the quality of the ride. It's a low grade transit experience. Boeing planes have been by comparison felt rather well put together.

SteveMT's picture

The last 54 minutes of flight communication broken by UK Tel

Transcript of conversation at link:
5:00PM GMT 21 Mar 2014
Revealed: the final 54 minutes of communication from MH370
EXCLUSIVE: The cockpit communication aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight can be revealed, from its taxi on the runway to its final message at 1.19am of 'all right, good night'. The transcript starts at 00.25 with general instructions from the control tower to the pilots. The detailed conversation begins at 00.36.

A transcript of conversations between the co-pilot and the control tower, and other air traffic controllers, runs from the time the Boeing 777 was taxiing to its last known position thousands of feet above the South China Sea.

It includes exchanges from a point at which investigators believe the plane had already been sabotaged, as well as the last words of Fariq Abdul Hamid, 27, the co-pilot: “All right, good night.”

Analysts said the sequence of messages appeared “perfectly routine”. However two features, they said, stood out as potentially odd.

The first was a message from the cockpit at 1.07am, saying the plane was flying at 35,000ft. This was unnecessary as it repeated a message delivered six minutes earlier.

But it occurred at a crucial moment: it was at 1.07am that the plane’s Acars signalling device sent its last message before being disabled some time in the next 30 minutes, apparently deliberately. A separate transponder was disabled at 1.21am but investigators believe the Acars was shut down before Hamid’s final, 1.19am farewell.

The other odd feature, one reason for suspicions that the plane’s disappearance was no accident, was that its loss of communication and subsequent sharp turn west occurred at the handover from air traffic controllers in Kuala Lumpur to those in Ho Chi Minh City.

“If I was going to steal the aeroplane, that would be the point I would do it,” said Stephen Buzdygan, a former British Airways pilot who flew 777s.

“There might be a bit of dead space between the air traffic controllers … It was the only time during the flight they would maybe not have been able to be seen from the ground.”


Awesome information! Thanks for the insight! But you are not gonna leave me hanging with that last Airbus comment are you? Am I gonna make it to New Orleans next month on my Fronteir A320 flight? Hahaha I know, I know stupid question.

Very interesting

we shall see. yep!

Strange, just reading a book by Michael Crichton

"Airframe" about the investigation into an air accident. In this book they suggest that airplanes built in US when sold to other countries are no longer under the FAA. Manuals and parts listing are, of course, received by all. It is suggested that parts are not always bought from original manufacturer, which have undergone hours of rigorous stress tests, because they can be bought cheaper else where. In other words, sub-standard.

academia, can you enlighten us?

SteveMT's picture

777s are in demand due to a parts shortage. Was it chopped-up?

Chopping up a 777 plane worth $260M would increase its value by a factor of 3-4. Even if MH370 was used for parts, where are the people?
Boeing 777: A drought in aftermarket spare parts?
Mar 20th, 2013

Narrowing supply stocks and the near-absence of aircraft for disassembly have sparked a worldwide shortage in aftermarket parts for the Boeing 777. In a confounding turn of events, B777 operators are resorting to part exchange options and expensive AOG orders as a result of untimely shortages in the stockpiles for major part suppliers. With the list of clients for Boeing’s long-range twinjet spanning six continents, responses to the current scarcity take on a decidedly global focus.
777 Parts Shortage? #AvMRO
Posted by Lee Ann Tegtmeier 9:08 AM on Mar 20, 2013

Locatory claims there's a worldwide shortage of standard spare parts for the Boeing 777, based on feedback it has heard from several customers.

We've seen teardowns occurring on younger and younger aircraft and engines, but the popular 777 has not yet been affected by this phenomenon, except for aircraft that crashed, such as widely covered British Airways incident at London Heathrow.

However, Locatory says three 777s recently have been scrapped.

"The pivotal issue here is the stronger role that economics plays in determining aircraft values. Quite simply, the 777-200/ER is beaten by the A330-300 for economics on shorter-range journeys and by its larger counterpart--the 777-300/ER on longer range sectors, leaving the jet somewhat obsolete. This is reflected in pre-owned market values, with -300ERs fetching values 50% higher than that of similar vintage 777-200ER jets," says Zilvinas Sadauskas, CEO of Locatory.com, which is a Avia Solutions company.

What are you hearing? Is there a 777 parts shortage?

Another possibility for why this 777 went missing for sure.

Good job in finding this press release. You have brought us so much info regarding this missing 777. Again, thank you and look forward to what you post next. ( : Maybe you are a journalist, if not you sure would make a good one. I don't think this has been reported on CNN or Fox has it?


SteveMT's picture

Your comment is very much appreciated.

Certain stories grab me, like this plane disappearance. That event alone did not, but what did was the Diego Garcia base just sitting there in the middle of the Indian Ocean without as much as a peep. It has a geo-synchronous orbiting satellite 35,000 km directly above it providing 24/7 real-time super-detailed imagery of every plane and ship in that part of the world....and the silence from that top secret base is deafening. They could end the nightmare for the families of these passengers very quickly by sending a simple anonymous message to someone in the know. Their secret surveillance system would remain intact, and no on else would need know. Are we involved? Did MH370 refuel at Diego Garcia, and is it now in a hanger in some other country being readied for a terrorist attack? Why won't our government do the right thing and tell the world what really happened? Unless there IS a sinister plot evolving, which is the reason why they are saying nothing.

AND . . . the CIA is short on human subjects

. . for their latest trauma-based mind-control experimentation @ the cutting-edge Diego Garcia laboratories: What's the going rate for 239 human guinea pigs? Hope i am wrong and prayers to all 239 souls . . .

SteveMT's picture

You are thinking the unthinkable. Jaw dropper.

You have a very diabolical mind, due to your 6.5 year membership in the DP no doubt. What you are suggesting is gruesome and horrible, but unfortunately NOT beyond the realm of possibility. These people are capable of anything. I would never have considered that possibility as part of the plan until now. It was a two-fer. The plane for a bomb-carrying terrorist mission or whatever, and 239 people to experiment on. You just answered the question about where did the 9/11 passengers go? The same thing was done to them. 2/3 of the passengers on the Malaysian jet were Chinese. Perhaps they are developing some kind of race-specific biological weapon? I'm feeling sick.

SteveMT's picture

A DP member who is also a 777 pilot. This is great.

I recommend that you make this an "original" contribution.

Apparently, the engines now ran for longer than the four hours initially reported. There was enough fuel for seven hours, but not at a 5,000 foot altitude.

"Citing sources, the report said the system “pings” about once every hour and in the case of MH370, around five or six such pulses were heard. This could mean that MH370, which was ferrying 239 people, had continued to fly on for a number of hours after it left the radar screens."

It's come out that a phone call was made from the cockpit by the pilot just be fore takeoff. It that normal/allowed? What about the last words spoken by the co-pilot "All right, Good night?" Thanks for anymore info.

MAS chief confirms investigators chasing MH370 pilot’s cockpit phone call
By Pathma Subramaniam - March 21, 2014

I think a different title would get this post more attn...

such as - A 777 Pilot's thoughts on Flight M370.

It's not often we can get such an informed opinion on such a narrow event.

Great post!

I bet Rolls Royce is correct about the 4-5 hours.

ChristianAnarchist's picture

I'm certain of it... (P.S.

I'm certain of it... (P.S. I'm also a pilot but just the little puddle jumpers...)

Beware the cult of "government"...