Sunday, March 30, 2014

Lost In The Noise

I would like to share something here that speaks volumes about the unsung heroes in aviation, and how a tragedy affects them as they are human after all. And it is also a great illustration of how something can get lost in the noise or tuned out in the great flood of information as this article was published one week prior to me reading it. So before casting the first stone, ask yourself if you are worthy.

What happened on March 8 still haunts personnel on duty 

Published: Sunday March 23, 2014 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Updated: Sunday March 23, 2014 MYT 7:19:30 AM 

PETALING JAYA: A sense of responsibility for the missing MH370 has taken a toll on Air Traffic Controllers on duty the morning the plane disappeared on March 8.

There were 40 personnel on duty during the shift, including the Radar Controller, Flight Planner and Flight Data officers, who were directing the aircraft before handing over responsibility to their Vietnamese counterparts.

A senior Department of Civil Aviation officer told The Star some of those on duty can’t help but dwell on what happened to the plane.

“They have come to talk to me and kept asking why, why why, this had happened,” said the officer. “Despite assuring them they had carried out their duties, some can’t let go of the incident.”He said all emergency protocol was followed immediately after MH370 disappeared off the radar.

During such emergencies there are three phases which must be followed. The initial Alert phased in this case required the air traffic controllers or ATCs to contact their counterparts in Vietnam. Subsequently Changi (Singapore) is contacted to determine if they had MH370 on their radar or if they were in communication with the missing aircraft.“This had to been done within three minutes of the emergency.”

In the subsequent Uncertainty phase, ATCs will contact all aircraft in the vicinity to determine if they were in communication with MH370 or had the plane on their radar or had visual sighting of it.

This must be done within 15 minutes and when no one could detect the plane the final Distress phase was activated.

Two search and rescue trained officers are on standby during every shift and they immediately opened the Aeronautical Rescue Co­­ordination Centre or ARCC. “The officers called the air force, which confirmed they had detected the plane on their military radar but it had diverted from its path.“We tried communicating with MH370 again but it didn’t work.“By the time it dropped off military radar, we had already begun planning where to search for the plane,” he said.

Two weeks on, the DCA officer, who is among those coordinating the search and rescue mission at the ARCC, said he is baffled by the incident.“We are working hard to follow up on every lead we get and we’ve been grateful for all the help we’ve been getting from other countries,” he said.However he expressed concern that time was running out.“I am worried, the decisions we make involve people’s lives and so many countries and public sentiment,” he said.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

You Should Be More Careful.

A Deputy Minister should be more careful when answering in Parliament, especially on matters of national security.

Unit Komunikasi Korporat, Kementerian Pertahanan telah mengeluarkan kenyataan berikut:
Jawapan Pada Sesi Parlimen
Kuala Lumpur, 27 Mac 2014 
Berhubung kenyataan saya dalam perbahasan titah Di Raja di Parlimen semalam (26 Mac 2014) yang mengatakan pesawat MH370 berpatah balik (turn back) berkemungkinan setelah menerima arahan daripada pusat kawalan, saya ingin menjelaskan bahawa ia hanya merupakan andaian saya semata-mata serta kemungkinan-kemungkinan yang boleh berlaku.
Selepas membuat semakan, saya ingin tegaskan bahawa andaian saya adalah tidak tepat.

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Finally The NGOs Are Getting Into The Act

Many believed that the world navies' combat submarines are the most suitable to conduct the search for MH370 wreckage. Believe me they are not. Never mind let them live with their delusions. There is now good news, finally the most suitable submersibles to conduct such deep sea searches are being readied pending identification of the most suitable search area according to this news report by the Telegraph UK. Three ABYSS deep sea search submarines which can dive to depths of 6,000 metres and stay submerged for up to 24 hours will be deployed by German and and American oceanographers from the Helmholtz Oceanography Institute and Woods Hole Institute once wreckage of flight MH370 is sighted. 

Peter Herzig, centre, and Klas Lackschewitz stand behind the German 'Abyss' Photo: Carsten Rehder/EPA
The ABYSS submarine, which is equipped with special sensors, cameras and an ultra sensitive Sonar system, resembles a torpedo and is painted yellow to make it easier to identify. The submarine's comparatively small size means that it can be flown in for deployment. In the spring of 2011, the three submarines were used successfully to track down the wreckage of the lost Air France flight 447 Airbus passenger plane which disappeared without trace over the Atlantic in 2009 with 228 passengers on board. 

I can only hope that this is only the first of many future NGOs that will join the search effort complementing the Navies'own assets that are being deployed to the operations. Good Luck!

Edited 1430H 25/March/2014.

Mini submarine Bathysaurus XL is able to dive to extreme depths of up to 6,000 meters.
Argus Remote System built the mini submarine and its holding company Swire Seabed. If needed, they are ready to send submarine to fly to Australia to assist in the search for the missing aircraft from Malaysia Airlines.


Unfortunately it only came out in an Norwegian articles here but it seems another deep sea recovery organisation that was involved in the AF447 search has also offered their assistance. At this time, any offer including the offer by Swire Seabed Mr. Frode Gaupås, who is operations director at Swire Seabed , who said "We are ready to join the search if we are asked about it". The Bergen-based company Swire Seabed AS owns one of the few mini submarine that can dive to 6,000 meters and thus can be used for this type of mission.We are ready to send it down on a cargo plane to Australia. said Gaupås. (From the translated article) In this time of need, methinks its best we take up on any such offer given to us don't you think.

Monday, March 24, 2014

Stay The Course Laddies!

We have six of the RMNs assets on the way to station equipped with active sonar. Other units are expected to be mobilised soon once the sweep area based on the new findings are identified. This does not include the other nations' assets already on station or enroute. Spare a thought for these brave souls now trying to do the near impossible in sea conditions that we may not experience in our own lifetime. Stop all speculations on their activities or worse degrading their efforts with your mindless remarks. Never you mind me laddies, stay your course and may fair winds assist your endevours!

Air Defence Status For Dummies (As Highlighted By MH370 Search)

A very interesting article commenting on the region's air defence radar network status as Dummies seem to think that it is working as if like some sort of a force field protecting the nation. Come on even in the movies the force field shield only comes on when the threat is detected. Sheesh!

Published: Monday March 24, 2014 MYT 1:44:00 PM
Updated: Monday March 24, 2014 MYT 1:50:18 PM 

 WAS the Malaysian air force sleeping on the job? How could an unidentified aircraft fly through Malaysian air space without the air force sitting up and being on high alert? Why were no jets scrambled? How secure is our air space?

Those are some of the questions many have been asking since Flight MH370 went missing.

The March 8 flight from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing was flying over the South China Sea heading into Vietnam air space when someone deliberately switched off the transponder at 1.21am making it disappear from the air traffic control (ATC) radar screen.

The Boeing 777 passenger plane carrying 239 people including 12 crew then made a turnaround crossing back into Malaysian airspace.

Unchallenged and unidentified – although it was picked up as a blip by the military’s primary radar at 2.15am (although not in real time) - it flew over Penang before disappearing towards the Indian Ocean.

Aerospace Defence Consultant Ravi Madavaram insists the military did no wrong.

“From my point of view, they didn’t make a mistake. They didn’t miss a military aircraft. They missed a commercial aircraft which is not their job anyway (to monitor).”

He stresses that the objectives of the military’s primary radar and commercial secondary radar are very different.

The secondary radar, he says, is used by the air traffic control (ATC) to track commercial aircraft as much as possible especially during landing and takeoff, which are the critical stages of a flight.

It requires fast response and communication is done via a transponder in the cockpit of the aircraft.

The military, on the other hand, uses a primary radar as its purpose is to track which airplane is a friend or foe.

It does not need a transponder because typically an enemy aircraft will not respond.

The primary radar hardware is automated and gives out blips every four to 12 seconds.

A military jet would give out a very small signal on the radar, says Ravi of Frost & Sullivan, while a commercial jet will give a big reading.

“So I can understand if nobody gets excited over the MH370 passing because from the primary radar they can see that it’s too big to be a military aircraft and it looks like a commercial aircraft which is flying off route so they just ignore it.”

If it is something small and moving fast, like a fighter jet, that is when the air force will take it seriously and be on the alert, he adds.

For him, overlooking that passing of MH370 is totally forgivable given the fact that Malaysia has “not seen much territorial attacks” nor does it face threats from neighbouring countries.

“Military and perspective work in a particular setting. If it is an object between China and India, or India and Pakistan, then everyone is going to put their jets up because you have that war scenario there and everything needs to be regularly checked.”

But Malaysia and its neighbouring countries are generally peaceful countries, he says, so they are not thinking “this is war” and that readiness might not be there.

The readiness is not in isolation, he says. It goes very much hand in hand with intelligence, which may suggest a possible incursion, or that people are planning something.

In the case of the MH370, there was nothing of that sort.

Radar expert Hans Weber says normally when an unidentified plane is in detectable range, the chain of command of the radar site will try to contact the plane by radio and ask it to identify itself. When there is no answer, fighter jets may be launched to try and identify it or signal it to land at the nearest airport or, if there is still no response, to take the tough decision to shoot it down.

“But all this depends on a number of factors including whether the nation feels threatened and whether the plane was flying towards an important target,” he adds.

Aviation analyst Gerry Soejatman points out that there is still no full information as to how the MH370 trajectory behaved on the radar.

“It does raise questions, but we must also understand that this was not an unidentified object approaching a vital object/infrastructure/target in a suspicious manner.

“If it did, then yes, a lot of questions are going to be asked.”

He notes that the military did suspect it was the MH370 turning back for reasons unknown to them and the military protocol would be to observe its behaviour and try to determine whether it was in distress or whether it was going to be a threat.

“The aircraft rightly so at the time was determined not to be a threat hence not intercepted. Before they realised the full extent of the situation, the aircraft had slipped far enough to make interception impractical or impossible.

“If this is a case of an unidentified aircraft coming out of nowhere aimed towards the peninsula, then a threat level would exist and possibly lead to interception.

“We must answer the question whether the action of the Malaysian Air Force was reasonable or not at that time; and not by using the benefit of hindsight because hindsight is always 20/20.”
It has been just over two weeks since MH370 went missing, and some 26 countries have now joined in the massive search and rescue operation to find it.

The last known signal from the aircraft came from an Inmarsat satellite at 8.11am indicating that it had travelled another six hours after leaving the west coast of Malaysia and out of the range of Malaysia’s military primary radar.

Countries in the northern arc and southern arc where the aircraft might have headed have been asked to check their own radar data to see if the plane had passed over their air space.

But therein lies some difficulties, some which might be potentially embarrassing or revealing.

If MH370 did cross into the airspace of other countries unnoticed, Weber says, it would also mean that the air defence in those countries might be a bit lax in the wee hours of the morning.

“But it might have flown a normal flight path at a normal altitude in a heavily travelled air corridor and thus did not get anybody to raise an alarm.”

Soejatman says that if the aircraft did enter another country’s territory, “we would also need to know how it did it before we can question why no red flags were raised”.

“There are tricks that can be adopted to enter a country using another aircraft to “piggyback”, this would make it extremely difficult for the flight to have been detected as it enters a country’s territory.”

MIT aeronautics and astronautics professor Dr R. John Hansman says MH370 did not have to cross the airspace of other countries as it could have remained over international waters away from countries or military radar.

One startling revelation to come out of this search and rescue operation was when India admitted that its radar in Nicobar and Andaman were shut at the time of the MH370 flight due to budget constraints.

Ravi says that while this might help Malaysia try and figure out where the aircraft has gone, India is not helping itself by giving that away.

“They are showing themselves in a bad light to an enemy who can do damage to their country.

“The main purpose of the military is to protect the country. I don’t think for a missing aircraft countries are going to expose their limitations,” he says.

He points out too that if any other country had switched off their radar to cut costs, in all likelihood they would not disclose this information to other countries, because it would not look good on them and their military.

Ravi points out that operating a primary radar is expensive because it beams a very strong signal which requires a lot of electricity and hence money to keep it on 24 hours.

So it would not come as a surprise to him if some of the poorer countries with no high security threats do not have their radar switched on all the time.

“But they will just say ‘we didn’t see the plane on our radar’ which is the truth because their radar was switched off. But it does not mean it didn’t pass through their air space.”

Dr Hansman believes that countries would not be prepared to put aside their own security concerns and share data that might give away their defence capabilities just to find a missing aircraft. “They would not compromise their security,” he says.

Concurring, Weber says he would not be surprised if the defence radar systems of other countries have radar information, which they have not yet revealed.

“This would be typical for the military.”

As Soejatman rightly points out, “defence is not just about capability, but also hiding such capability or the lack of it”.

He notes that no country will publicly admit to using classified technologies to find the aircraft.

“Such exchange of information using these special capabilities is likely to already be happening behind the scenes among friendly nations or through a friendly nation.

“What we are seeing are the non-classified capabilities being used.

“Beyond that, any country would be foolish to disclose the use of classified technology without careful consideration.”

He also says that the satellite imagery data that we are seeing are of non-classified capabilities only.

As for Malaysia, they have come out to say that they have revealed and shared their raw data with other countries, even putting the country’s intelligence second to finding the aircraft.

But doesn’t this make the country vulnerable security wise?

Ravi thinks it does. “But at this point of time, Malaysia doesn’t have a choice but to give out all that information. Not finding the aircraft will have huge repercussions in terms of the economy and the scenario of the country and I don’t think Malaysia can run that risk.

“And even with giving out that information, they can’t find the aircraft. Imagine if they didn’t give out that information? It does impact a bit on Malaysia’s military capabilities but you cannot not give out the information,” he says.

Ravi also points out the irony is that the aviation industry is one of the most high tech industries in the world. Yet, despite all the advances in technology, the aircraft is still missing.

“It is unprecedented,” he says.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

This I Think Makes Sense

 © Lorenzo Giacobbo

Yes I am breaking my own rules but here I am linking a theory on MH370 that I find most credible and sensible to date. Who knows if it is proven true, it may have assisted somewhat.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Here Are Your "Submarines" You So Called Experts.

Credit : Mymil Forum

I understand that some "experts" are querying why other navies' "submarine' are being used and why we are not using ours instead.

I do not want to be drawn into an argument but just for everybody's information these are the deep sea rescue vessels being deplored in the search.

From the Republic Singapore Navy, the MV Swift Rescue  a submarine support and rescue vessel.


Though unverified, it is also reported that our own Submarine Escape and Rescue vessel  MV Mega Bakti has also been despatched from its home base in Kota Kinabalu to join the save and rescue efforts. 

                                          Source ==> here

So don't go around saying that submarines being deployed. It just shows your ignorance more.