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MH370: Missing Passengers, Seating, Standby Passengers, Cargo?

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
MH370 was a Boeing 777-200ER (Extended range), registration 9M-MRO, also designated 777-2H6ER, where H6 is just the code for Malaysia Airlines. It was configured for 282 passengers, 35 in business, and 247 in economy. Only 227 passengers were on board, leaving 55 empty seats.

Four passengers (initially reported as five) did not check in for the flight, Malaysia Airlines' most recent statement on this:
http://www.malaysiaairlines.com/my/en/site/dark-site.html
Other reports are somewhat confusing:
http://news.malaysia.msn.com/tmi/four-passengers-not-onboard-mh370-replaced-by-standby-passengers
Perhaps in "making it simple", he oversimplified, and created more confusion. Why were there standby passengers if there were 55 empty seats? Were they simply upgrade standby passengers who would have boarded anyway? (This seems fairly likely, as one of the passengers who claimed to have missed the flight is CEO Kaiden Dawson, and CEO's generally go business class)

Or was there some other reason why 55 seats were empty, such as for weight reasons?

There has been some speculation that there was a heavy cargo that limited to the number of passengers. Anyone heard of anything like that?
 

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TWCobra

Senior Member
Many airlines "tanker" fuel into China for various reasons, cost of fuel there being one of them. There was some speculation on PPRUNE that this flight was doing so and hence had a weight restriction. Unconfirmed but plausible.
 

Mick West

Administrator
Staff member
Many airlines "tanker" fuel into China for various reasons, cost of fuel there being one of them. There was some speculation on PPRUNE that this flight was doing so and hence had a weight restriction. Unconfirmed but plausible.
Interesting. Would that be usable fuel? Or in some separate tank?

Some of the range estimates go far (2,000 miles) beyond Beijing. That seems like more than the usual safety margin. Or are they just making things up?
 

WeedWhacker

Senior Member
Interesting. Would that be usable fuel? Or in some separate tank?
I think TWCobra was referring to the practice of carrying more fuel than needed for the particular flight segment. It would be in the normal fuel tanks.

A weight restriction can be incurred on shorter stage length flights, like Kuala Lumpur to Beijing, because there is less fuel weight burn-off on a 5-hour flight than say New York to Tokyo, and 11 hours enroute.

So, the weight limitation would be a consideration of the Max Gross Landing Weight limits, upon arrival at destination. Again, only 'IF' there was a circumstance of "tankering" in this instance.
 

TWCobra

Senior Member
It is usable. It is not necessarily enough to make the return flight, but reduces the amount uplifted in China.

Edit: Didn't see Weeds reply...
 

TWCobra

Senior Member
Tankering is common enough in airline operations. The bean counters weigh up the relative cost of the fuel in the two ports, factor in the cost of the extra fuel burn to physically carry it to destination and decide if it is worth it. The limiting factor, as WW says, is usually the max landing weight. Airlines will fill the aircraft up to a margin below that limit, usually a couple of tonnes in the case of a heavy jet.
 

Svartbjørn

Senior Member
So.. in layman's terms, the aircraft have more gas in the tank than they need so they dont have to pay the guy at the pump more than they absolutely HAVE to, to make it back home plus the % used for safety.. IE longer than expected holds etc?.. is that the gist?
 

WeedWhacker

Senior Member
So.. in layman's terms, the aircraft have more gas in the tank than they need so they dont have to pay the guy at the pump more than they absolutely HAVE to, to make it back home plus the % used for safety.. IE longer than expected holds etc?.. is that the gist?
This is often done, when the cost per gallon (or litre) at a particular airport is so excessive that it is cost effective to "tank" the extra fuel (as much as possible, given certain operational limitations) and accept the slight increase in overall fuel burn costs, due to the excess overall weight.

Or if an airport may be experiencing a known shortage of fuel available for delivery, for example.

Again, unknown whether this was the case for MH370 (the airline's paperwork, the load sheet details, the Dispatch Release, etc, will be providing this info).
 

Svartbjørn

Senior Member
Ahh ok, I thought that was the case but I wanted to make sure I understood what you guys were saying in just plain everyday speech. Thanks to both of you guys for the info.
 
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