Finding the Needle

The invaluable Professional Pilot’s Rumor Network site has a graphic explaining how the flight corridors were determined from the available data. The last contact of MH370 was with a satellite. By plotting range information with the previous knowns, the signal must have come from a position of one 2 arc segments, as shown below.  And that’s the provenance of the northern and southern tracks.

Another bearing required

Another bearing required

Readers will realize that if another, separate source of range data is available then it will be possible to more particularly specify MH370’s track. If some commercial or intelligence outfit has it, then we have a more interesting game.

The Malaysian Prime Minister said at yesterday’s press conference that “the investigation team – which includes the FAA, NTSB, the AAIB, the Malaysian authorities and the Acting Minister of Transport” convinced him the plane had been taken over. He added that he was going to ask countries that might be on one of the two possible tracks to help the “technical experts”:

As the two new corridors involve many countries, the relevant foreign embassies have been invited to a briefing on the new information today by the Malaysian Foreign Ministry and the technical experts. I have also instructed the Foreign Ministry to provide a full briefing to foreign governments which had passengers on the plane. This morning, Malaysia Airlines has been informing the families of the passengers and crew of these new developments.

Stripped of political correctness the interpretation of the PM’s statement is probably that the Americans and the Brits helped the Malaysians make sense of their radar data and analyzed it with collateral available only to “international” authorities, i.e. the self-same Americans and Brits.


To track down the airplane he will clothe the “technical experts” in the legality of Malaysian authority and basically ask countries along the suspected flight path to allow the Americans and Brits to pore through any available data to find the track of the airplane. That’s why the Malaysian Foreign Ministry is contacting the relevant ambassadors.

This will take some time. But the PM’s request might at the very least prod some of these countries to look at their logs and intelligence files to see if something has in fact flown over or been detected.  And if something has — well there’s our second bearing.

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