An article published in The Australian today by Byron Bailey in relation to the search for MH370 contains inaccurate information and false assertions. In the interests of providing a transparent and accurate account, the ATSB considers it necessary to correct the record.
Firstly, Mr Bailey claims that the company contracted by the ATSB to conduct the search, Fugro, believes they are looking in the wrong place. In fact, Fugro has publicly denied this claim and issued a statement to say:
Fugro wishes to make it very clear that we believe the search area to have been well defined based on all of the available scientific data. In short, we have been thoroughly looking in the most probable place – and that is the right place to search.
Mr Bailey also claims that FBI data from MH370 captain’s home simulator shows that the captain plotted a course to the southern Indian Ocean and that it was a deliberate planned murder/suicide. There is no evidence to support this claim.
As Infrastructure and Transport Minister Darren Chester said in a statement, the simulator information shows only the possibility of planning. It does not reveal what happened on the night of its disappearance nor where the aircraft is located.
While the FBI data provides a piece of information, the best available evidence of the aircraft’s location is based on what we know from the last satellite communications with the aircraft. This is indeed the consensus of international satellite and aircraft specialists.
Mr Bailey continues to incorrectly claim that the ATSB rejects any possibility that MH370’s disappearance was the result of a person taking control of the aircraft. As the ATSB has previously stated:
For the purposes of its search, the ATSB has not needed to determine – and has made no claims – about what might have caused the disappearance of the aircraft. For search purposes, the relevant facts and analysis most closely match a scenario in which there was no pilot intervening in the latter stages of the flight. We have never stated that hypoxia (or any other factor) was the cause of this circumstance.
Mr Bailey also states that during his experience with a B777 simulator, if the crew were unresponsive, then on second-engine flame-out due to fuel exhaustion the autopilots would disconnect and the aircraft would enter a terminal dive at 1200 km/hr. In fact, extensive testing on Boeing’s (the manufacturer of the missing Boeing 777) simulator shows that after running out of fuel, the aircraft actually stays airborne for several minutes and descends at various rates in a “fugoid”(or wave-like) motion.
It is disappointing that Mr Bailey continues to make false accusations and inaccurate statements in relation to the search for MH370. To determine the search area, the ATSB has worked closely with international experts in satellite communications, aircraft systems, data modelling and accident investigation. This includes specialists from (and who draw on the broader expertise of) the following organisations:
- Air Accidents Investigation Branch (UK)
- Boeing (USA)
- Defence Science and Technology Organisation (Australia)
- Department of Civil Aviation (Malaysia)
- Inmarsat (UK)
- National Transportation Safety Board (USA)
- Thales (UK)
The ATSB’s correction to Mr Bailey’s previous article from 18 January 2016 can be found on this page.
The ATSB has met, on a number of occasions, with the family and friends of MH370 passengers and crew, both in Australia and in Malaysia. Of further concern to the ATSB is the intense personal impact that claims such as Mr Bailey’s has on those who are suffering as a result of this tragedy.