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Lithium batteries brought down MH370, says investigator

 | June 25, 2015

The story of missing Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 was not about conspiracy, evil or fuzzy pictures.

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KUALA LUMPUR: One investigator, Bruce Robertson, has taken to his website to give a novel analysis of what happened to Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 which disappeared on a routine flight on 8 March last year from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing.

He has written a brief summary, A solution to the Malaysian Flight MH370 Mystery, Solving the Malaysian Flight 370 Mystery – A Reasoned Approach, on his novel analysis.

With the official search concluded for the season, it’s time to take a fresh look at what could have happened in March 2014 to this Boeing 777 airliner, he said in an email.

He noted that much has been said about the possible scenarios but none has gotten us any closer to finding the missing plane. “What follows is a reasoned, and reasonable, explanation of what happened without conjuring any complex fantasies,” said Robertson.

Robertson’s short summary follows:

The lithium ion batteries in the cargo hold start to react, flooding the plane with deadly carbon monoxide.

The co-pilot, Fariq, turns the plane back to the west and begins a descent with the intent of landing.

Fariq succumbs to the carbon monoxide and the plane’s automation takes over the next several hours.

As the plane is blind to the world (and the world is blind to the plane), the plane flies in a very large radius left turn, the exponential spiral path first proposed in March 2014.

The plane crashes into the Southern Indian Ocean west of the Zenith Plateau, west of Exmouth Australia. This is at roughly 21 degrees south, 103 degrees east.

“So, there you have it — no conspiracies, no evil intent, no fuzzy pictures, just a simple industrial accident that took a while to play out due to automation trying to save the situation,” said Robertson.

“The wounded bird did its best to survive but it was not to be. What’s needed now was a renewed search effort by the likes of James Cameron or Paul Allen, both of whom share an interest in undersea exploration.”

The Zenith Plateau area was the site of the original search in March and April, 2014, due to underwater locater pings being detected in the vicinity, he said.

While the ping yielded valuable clues as to the MH370’s whereabouts, he added, the search area was soon discarded due to some very impressive but difficult to challenge mathematics that turned out to be wrong. “Too much time and money has been wasted on a fruitless search in an area much further southwest, due west of Perth.”

Robertson argues, given his novel analysis, that one should come away with renewed confidence in the safety of commercial aviation, its equipment, and personnel. “It is a great credit to the Boeing company who built such a complex machine that kept flying to the bitter end in spite of failure after failure.”

“It’s time to take some guidance from Occam’s razor when formulating the event description, one that doesn’t overly rely on unwarranted assumptions.”

We do have enough known facts about this event without resorting to poor assumptions that negate all subsequent work, he continued.

In the case of MH370, he stressed, “we can safely assume something catastrophic happened to the plane requiring a turn-back to home base.”

The damaged and very broken plane was not a good candidate for making a maximum-effort endurance run in a straight line to nowhere in particular. “Hence, the assumption about flying at 35,000 feet with all systems, including guidance, working perfectly can be thrown out at the start.”

”All the false assumptions about grand conspiracies can also be totally disregarded as well as thoughts about the pilots acting in bad faith.”

“The true account of what happened is quite simple yet fascinating in all aspects.”

This is not to say there is no blame to be parceled out, he cautioned “The freight forwarding business needs to be held to account for their actions and policies regarding shipment of hazardous cargo.”

To a much lesser extent, he said, the Malaysian air traffic control and government officials need to improve their handling of such exceptional occurrences such as MH370.

Footnote: Bruce Robertson is an airplane pilot and engineer living in Monterey, California. As a pilot flying for over 40 years now, he has experienced some events that MH370 may have encountered: unbalanced lateral loads due to a fuel load differential, computer plots of the assumed flight path that bear only passing resemblance to the actual flight, and cockpit emergencies where he didn’t have time to talk.


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