1. MH370 speculation has become excessive recently. Metabunk is not a forum for creating theories by speculation. It's a forum for examining claims, and seeing if they hold up. Please respect this and keep threads on-topic. There are many other forums where speculation is welcome.
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  1. straightshooter

    straightshooter New Member

    Hi all,

    First post on this site. I am fascinated by the MH370 disaster.

    Just read an interesting theory published by Bruce Robertson (a commercial pilot) on his website:


    His claim is that the pilots and everybody on board was poisoned by the fumes from a battery fire in the cargo hold. In his theory he claims one of the pilots shut down the LHS engine to isolate electrics & the fire - explaining the shutdown of ACARS and the SATCOM initially. Explains the SATCOM rebooting by the autopilot taking over and powering up the left hand side bus (SATCOM logon request at 18:22).

    Claims that the aircraft was held in a large radius left hand turn by one of the pilots slumped on his control column and the aircraft climbed & descended in a phugoid motion, eventually crashing due west of Exmouth (near the area where the supposed "pings" were heard).

    Can anyone debunk this?
  2. derwoodii

    derwoodii Senior Member

    My understanding is there was a step in the shut down of flight deck comms and navigation that required the hand and mind of a person in control & not unconscious. (But i maybe confused with Germanwings) Not one mayday, not even one click on comms??, Its a good read and shows how satcom pings were sent and a possible gentle splash down that wont leave a huge debris field is possible.

    I'll await till many MB qualified readers assist.

    oh and welcome to MB
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2015
  3. derwoodii

    derwoodii Senior Member

    tap tap check 1,2 123 er hello anybody is this thing working ?
  4. straightshooter

    straightshooter New Member

    I'm here mate :)

    Robertson seems to explain the electronics being disabled by the pilot shutting down the LHS engine because he believed the cargo fire could affect it.

    I guess we need someone who has expertise in B777's to either confirm or debunk if a fire in the cargo hold could adversely affect LHS engine operation.
  5. Ray Von Geezer

    Ray Von Geezer Senior Member

    I think maybe the reason there's not been much response is that it seems like a sincere attempt to explain what may have happened, on that basis a "debunk" seems a little harsh.

    I did read through it, and did a bit of "Googling" on how the fire suppression system works and the procedures involved, since the author doesn't really mention it:-

    Boeing - Cargo-Compartment Smoke Detection & Fire Suppression - this states that the 777 series cargo compartments are "Class C", and that the fire suppression system must function for between 60-180 minutes (depending upon range, so likely the top end for MH370 as it was a multiple engine long-haul flight).

    Boeing - Fire Protection: Cargo Compartments - this gives more detail on how the fire detection, suppression and smoke penetration controls work.

    Given the above it appears that once the fire was detected, and assuming the pilot was capable of responding to it, the systems and procedures should have suppressed the fire and prevented further fumes from entering the occupied areas.

    A lot of the theory seems to hinge on the pilot taking off his oxygen mask (and not applying a mask to his disabled colleague) which, presuming that was a failure in protocol explained by his befuddled state, in turn hinges on the fire detection system being unable to detect the fire before the cockpit and cabin were filled with CO. The answers to whether either/both of those scenarios are likely are beyond my "Google smarts" :)

    Ray Von
    Last edited: Jul 6, 2015
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  6. straightshooter

    straightshooter New Member

    The report says there were 221kg of Lithium batteries all up in the cargo hold. Perhaps it would be prudent for the investigative team to conduct a mockup of the cargo hold on MH370, set one of the Lithium batteries on fire and see how the fire develops (with halon fire suppression introduced).
    • Like Like x 1
  7. Ray Von Geezer

    Ray Von Geezer Senior Member

    Probably worth having a look around, similar tests may already have been run, airlines have been concerned about LI-ON batteries for some time.

    Halon does seem to be recommended for LI-ON battery fires, though it'd certainly be interesting to know whether that's limited to preventing it from spreading to other materials or if it can stop or limit thermal runaway.

    Ray Von
  8. Pete Tar

    Pete Tar Moderator Staff Member

    Last edited: Jul 6, 2015
  9. derwoodii

    derwoodii Senior Member

  10. TWCobra

    TWCobra Senior Member

    Looks hopeful. We will know shortly.
    As for the OP... Speculation and poor speculation at that.
  11. Mick West

    Mick West Administrator Staff Member

  12. Bruce Robertson

    Bruce Robertson New Member

    Did you see Boeing's announcement from a week or two ago? Halon didn't do much for Li-ion fires.

  13. Bruce Robertson

    Bruce Robertson New Member

    The Li-ion scenario is a just device to tie the theory together. I wish it could be good enough to even call "poor speculation". I'm just as comfortable with an oxygen-based start to this whole disaster.

    The rest of the evidence does support the remainder of the scenario, though. I especially want to pin down the aircraft movement through the Malacca Strait as this leads us to the crash site.
  14. derwoodii

    derwoodii Senior Member

    Giday Bruce & welcome could you post a link to the Boeings claim
  15. TWCobra

    TWCobra Senior Member

    Bruce, I don't have any 777 time but have close to 10000 on the 767 and 747.

    Lets take your scenario one claim at a time.

    Incorrect analysis: Standard procedure on most airliners on departure is to climb at 250 IAS to 10,000 ft. In places like the US it is mandatory. The restriction is coded into the FMC. All that was happening at 10000 feet was that the aircraft began to accelerate to climb speed by lowering the nose and hence the climb rate. The aircraft was flying towards the Cameron Highlands, which makes this procedure good airmanship as well.

    Speculation. Also I cannot find any reference to carbon monoxide being a byproduct of a lithium-ion battery fire. Please give us one if you have it.


    1.Inaccurate speculation: There is no means to determine the location of a fire at "the left wing root". Whilst the EICAS message says "Fire CARGO FWD", it is actually a smoke detection. There are no fire detectors in the cargo area. The drill is to actuate the fire suppressant bottles which are designed to suppress a fire for a sufficient time to get to an airport. The fumes from any fire do not come into the cabin or flight deck. The systems are described here:


    2. Inaccurate claim: The Cargo fire checklist is not a memory item.

    Nor does it:
    Here is the actual checklist:

    Fire checklist.

    The LDG ALT Selector item is a pressurization setting, not a command to descend.

    3. Procedure being made up here:

    There is no command to shut down an engine to isolate a cargo fire.

    Bruce, I have no wish to humiliate you. But I have only scratched the surface of your scenario and find it severely wanting. I will leave it up to if you want me to go on but it is clear to me you have little understanding of how airliners work.
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  16. TWCobra

    TWCobra Senior Member

  17. TWCobra great job :)
  18. Rob

    Rob Member

    Besides the arguments already given against the "fire" scenario from Bruce Robertson, one may ask :

    1) Why did the pilots not issue a "mayday" call at any time ? and

    2) Why did the plane make a 180 after the transponder was switched off, and then put the pedal to the metal flying 529 knots back over the Malaysian peninsula,

    if they had a fire aboard ?
    page 3.
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2015
  19. derwoodii

    derwoodii Senior Member


    so this in my mind puts splash down in the search area,,, but did or could the fuselage float or semi submersed drift in currents for some time eg wings stay on large empty fuel buoyant tanks.

    Subsequent analysis confirmed the 7th handshake could be used to help determine the most probable flight path.

  20. Rob

    Rob Member

    As far as I know, the search efforts DID include the 7th arc:

    in the determination of which areas to search :


    note that the difference between the 6th and the 7th handshake is only some 135 km, which is small compared to the entire area being searched.

    The recent find of that flaperon on Reunion Island suggest (if anything) that MH370 likely downed at the north end of that search area, not much affected by a choice between the 6th or the 7th Inmarsat handshake.
  21. derwoodii

    derwoodii Senior Member

    Any chance this old data checked possible find is within the predicted footprint


    058c857a5f35b572b0c8e11ca582843d. e51e0c331b7b0400cb0fcb02eefa2de4.
  22. ralph Leo

    ralph Leo Member

  23. TWCobra

    TWCobra Senior Member

    The Satcom is powered from the Left AC bus. If that was working then the "massive electrical failure" scenario described by this author is invalid.
  24. TWCobra

    TWCobra Senior Member

    After reading the report in-depth, my recommendation is to avoid "The Daily Beast" and Mr Clive Irving with any reference to this incident.

    The report deals only with possibilities around the end of the flight. There is no mention of how the aircraft got to that point save the explanation of the Satcom tracking data.

    The Left AC bus was operating for all of the flight till the engines flamed out. With that bus operating you can fly the aircraft normally. You have full instrumentation on the Captains side and available autopilots. You also have full communications.

    I don't think Mr Irving understood the report at all.
    • Agree Agree x 1
  25. TWC I'm curious and you would likely know that, is it possible to turn off comms from E/E bay in a way that left AC bus stays operative?!
  26. TWCobra

    TWCobra Senior Member

    Yes. Comms can be turned off either by finding and pulling the applicable circuit breakers (most, if not all of which are on the overhead panel in the cockpit) or going into the E/E and physically disconnecting the radio boxes from their power source and/or finding any CB's in there as well.

    The access door to the E/E is outside the flight deck on the B777. So it depends what scenario you are looking at. You can make the applicable Flight deck CB's out in these diagrams.


    • Like Like x 1
  27. Rob

    Rob Member

    Thanks TWCobra, but how do you know that ?
  28. TWCobra

    TWCobra Senior Member

    Because the Satcom was sending out handshake pings every hour. Therefore the Satcom was powered, therefore the bus was operating.
  29. Rob

    Rob Member

    Yes, that is true for the time AFTER 18:25, an hour after MH370 went dark. But at 18:25, SatCom logs on with Inmarsat, which means that at that time, EITHER somebody physically flipped the circuit breakers in the E/E bay back on (and then decides not to use the system), OR the left AC bus was powered down prior to 18:25.

    The latter also suggests that the cockpit door lock was in the 'unlocked' position prior to 18:25...
  30. derwoodii

    derwoodii Senior Member

    a new or to me new theory by
    • JANUARY 29, 2016 12:00AM

    MH370: report’s ‘stupid’ flaws hinder search


  31. vooke

    vooke Active Member

    There is some heat there by one Mick over engine 'flame out' and turning left. Did the plane turn left after the right engine flame-out or both? And is this reasonable or consistent with actual flight scenarios?

    But more importantly, is the turning left in the simulator significant to the search area?
  32. Simon Gunson

    Simon Gunson Member

    A report prepared for the ATSB using Bayesian analysis dated 03 December 2015 noted that Malaysian Airlines (MAS) sent an ACARS signal to MH370 at 18:03 UTC instructing the crew to establish radio contact with HCM Control. The Downlink advisory told MAS that the message was undeliverable. ACARS works off a handshake principle thus a response would indicate if the signal was received. The same signal was then automatically repeated every two minutes from 18:03 to 18:43 with no success.

    Of note here is that MH370's SATCOM logged on again at 18:25 UTC, but the ACARS failure persisted well after 18:25 UTC. In fact ACARS was never switched on and ACARS never resumed operation. It was the SDU which logged on at 18:25. What responded to pings were the Classic Aero terminals attached to the RR engines. This was more indicative of power being restored to circuits than ACARS being switched on.

    When MAS attempted to place two SAT phone calls to MH370 at 18:39 UTC, the Downlink signal 9M-MRO went through a handshake protocol to self-test if the line was clear and ready for use. This resulted in a series of SAT handshakes numbered in the INMARSAT log for MH370 from handshake signals numbers 951 to 1042.

    The self check test for the first call attempt ended at Handshake signal 963 according to signal protocol (found in the AMS(R)S Manual) when the the forward circuit to the cockpit failed due to "Power Management Failure."

    All of the above stated could not have been replicated by a pilot in the cockpit merely switching off ACARS.

    But the really interesting point is the indications of electrical error before 17:21. At 16:55 UTC whilst the transponder said MH370 was climbing east, the Line-Of-Sight (LOS) BFO was decreasing at a rate not explained by recession of the satellite. In fact the LOS Doppler was -384.9605 when satellite recession only explained -75.0042.

    In the signal at 17:07 UTC the LOS Doppler was -441.69. Negative Doppler implies MH370 was flying towards the satellite when in fact we know from the transponder that it was not. Only electrical failure could replicate this bizarre dissonance between data.
    Last edited: May 8, 2016
  33. Brendan

    Brendan New Member

    Where do those figures come from?

    A negative Doppler frequency shift actually means the aircraft was flying away from the satellite, not towards it. It's the same principle as the change in tone of a sound from a moving object. A siren's tone goes from higher to lower as it goes past you. When the sound source is moving away, its tone is lower than it would be if the source was stationary or moving towards you.
  34. TWCobra

    TWCobra Senior Member

    Simon, I am struggling to see the point of this post in the overall scheme of things. What sort of electrical failure are you envisaging and how does it affect the narrative put forward by the ATSB.

    Please don't think I agree with the ATSBs position on incapacitated pilots. I recently had an article published in the Australian press which outlines why I believe the aircraft was fully in control and being flown by someone intimately familiar with the aircraft systems and navigation precepts till at least the turn south after passing Sumatra.
  35. vooke

    vooke Active Member

    @TWCobra, what( in your opinion )do you think happened after the South turn?
  36. TWCobra

    TWCobra Senior Member

    I don't know with any certainty. However the ATSB is working under the presumption that despite the actions before that turn; where the aircraft was clearly under competent control, that after that point it wasn't.

    The track after the turn south was a straight line. A straight track, as explained in my article, cannot have been accidental.

    The ATSB then works the "end of flight" scenario under this supposition without explaining why. The right engine was burning more fuel than the left so they presuppose the tanks remained unbalanced and the RH engine flamed out before the left? eventually causing a spiral dive into the ocean.

    If a pilot was still alive on the flight deck then there is no reason to think that must be the case so in turn, the presumptions about what happened are probably ill-founded.