The Anonymous Widower

Why Was Flight MH 17 Over Ukraine?

There’s an old saying, that says there are old pilots and bold pilots, but no old, bold pilots.

Over the last week or so, there have been reports of the rebels in the East of Ukraine shooting down Ukranian planes. An ex-British Airways pilot on the BBC this morning, felt that planes should avoid the area. In fact, the BBC has also stated that some airlines have been avoiding the area anyway.

But as Simon Calder, the respected travel journalist, said on the BBC this morning, if you’re flying long haul, you often fly over a war zone.

And then today because of the thunderstorms in the UK, there have been delays and diversions of airliners. So planes are avoiding extreme weather, but not war zones!

But I wouldn’t fly in any plane that went over a war zone, where the participants had the capability and especially the record of shooting down high-flying aircraft.

I sometimes think that my policy of holidaying in the area covered by my EHIC card is a sensible one, because of my health history. There’s still eight countries in that area, that I haven’t visited and they include dangerous places like Finland and Leichtenstein.

July 19, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , , | Leave a comment

Shooting Down An Airliner Is So Easy

With the tragic loss of Malaysian Airlines flight MH 17 over Ukraine probably to a missile fired from the ground, it made me think about what sort of missile was used.

I found this article on the American Popular Science web site. The article says this.

Early information comes from an advisor to the Ukrainian interior minister, Anton Gerashenko. In a Facebook post he says the plane was “hit by a missile fired from a Buk launcher.”

So what is a Buk  launcher? The system is described on Wikipedia. The operators of these missiles contain some of the usual suspects. So one battery getting into the wrong hands can do a lot of damage.

Now it’s been done once, the odds must have shortened about another idiot following the lead.

We obviously don’t have to worry about Buk launchers in the UK, as I don’t think it would be easy to get the system through the Channel Tunnel.

But there are many man portable systems that if you could get near enough to an airliner would severely damage it and make it incapable of flying. But even smuggling in something like a Russian Igla to a launch point might be difficult. But there are a long list of operators, who aren’t always the most friendly of countries.

I’m no expert on the deployment of missiles such as the Igla, but I do wonder if one could be launched through the cut-away roof of something like a Range Rover. Obviously, the exhaust from the missile wouldn’t do the occupants of the car much good, but the launch could probably be triggered by a simple remote system controlled by a mobile phone.

All you would need to do, is park the vehicle at the end of the runway outside the perimeter fence of an airport, where the planes go over at a couple of hundred metres or so.

And of course it’s very convenient that many airport authorities provide large long term car parks in just the right place. Long term car parks should be well away from the airport, if they exist at all.

The last variable I’ll throw into this post, is beware the innovator. If we believe reports, like this one, terrorists will develop all sorts of devices to down an airliner. So could they develop simpler weapons to shoot down an airliner, as it’ll be much easier than smuggling a bomb onto an aircraft.

July 18, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , | Leave a comment

Turing’s Legacy

Congratulations are in order to those who analysed the satellite data and appear to have shown that the ill-fated Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370 has crashed into the Southern Indian Ocean, as reported here on the BBC.

Over sixty years ago, Alan Turing was involved in using one of the first general purpose computers to solve the problems of the Comet airliner. The recent Alan Turing exhibition is reviewed here.

Computing has only shown us the hors d’oeuvre. The main course will be spectacular. Unless of course politicians decide that analysing data should not be allowed or made downright difficult.

March 24, 2014 Posted by | Computing, News | , , | 1 Comment

Let The Theories Circulate!

Like nearly everybody in the world, I’d like to get to the bottom of what happened to Malaysian Airlines Flight MH370.

But this page on the BBC’s web site has gone to town with speculation.

So what can I add to the speculation?

According to the /BBC report, the plane flew over the Malay Peninsular.  C and I drove through that area on a military road that goes from one side to the other and there was miles and miles of jungle, where we thought we could hear elephants in the distance. One Malaysian doctor told me that they check cars in and out on that road, as there are accidents, where drivers his elephants sitting on the cool tarmac in the night.

So is it a place, where if the plane came down, could it just be lost in all the trees? I won’t speculate further than to ask the question!

If you read aircraft accident reports, as I used to when I flew a lot, you realise that pilots make quite a few silly mistakes, that you’d think they wouldn’t.  Who’d have thought for example, before the Costa Concordia disaster, such a thing could happen to a cruise liner, in sight of land on a clear day.

So did the crew make some catastrophic mistake?

In most cases pilot suicide can surely be ruled out, as it would have to be almost a double suicide, unless one pilot had locked the other out of the cockpit and then perhaps shot himself.

We’re obviously left things like the plane exploding and breaking up, but things get more and more fanciful.

One of the problems with any of these theories is that the plane was still transmitting information back to London for seven hours.

Only when we find the plane and its black box recorders, will we have any chance of finding the truth!

March 18, 2014 Posted by | Transport | , , | 3 Comments