November 8, 2014
By: John E. Fiorentino
Independent Group (IG) member Jeff Wise in the aviation section of his internet blog at http://jeffwise.net/ has committed one of the cardinal sins of good journalism – publishing unverified information.
Unfortunately for Mr. Wise, he carried this indiscretion one step further and promulgated a theory relating to the disappearance of Malaysian Flight MH370 based on this same misinformation.
The headline on Wise's blog article reads, “MH370 Evidence Points to Sophisticated Hijackers“– but does it? The idea for this hijack scenario comes from another IG member, Michael Exner, who purportedly conducted a flight simulation relating to MH370 on Sunday, November 2, 2014. (A simulation for which Exner said he would report the results on Monday, November 3, 2014. - (We are still awaiting that report)
Wise weaves his tale under the stated assumption that “whoever took over the plane was technically sophisticated” and possessed greater knowledge of Boeing 777 avionics than most commercial line pilots. Wise also claims that the “new information” from Exner suggests that the plane's captain, Zaharie Ahmad Shah “was not responsible for taking the plane.”
All of this conjecture seems to stem from Mike Exner's assertion that, “there is no way to turn off the primary power to the Satcom from the cockpit.” Before we start arguing semantics rather than facts, Exner puts it a slightly different way in the comments section of Jeff Wise's article. There Exner says; “Based on what the line pilots and the 777 sim trainer tell me, I agree that the AES power could only be “turned off” from the E-bay CB panel ,,,,” (Here AES, which stands for Airborne Earth Station is just another descriptor for the Satcom) (E-Bay, Electronic and Equipment Bay (E/E Bay) is the electronic heart of the aircraft, while CB-panel in this case stands for Circuit Breaker panel)
Enough jargon you say? I agree! Let's get on with it, shall we?
The point of all this stew is that drawing from Exner's contention that the Satcom can't be turned off in the cockpit, Wise deduces that it must have been turned off by pulling a circuit breaker in the E/E Bay. Thus the evidence for the “sophistication” of the hijackers.
Nice Try, But No Cigar
The fact of the matter is the Satcom can be disengaged through the Control Display Unit (CDU) in the cockpit by merely pushing a few buttons. This action is available through the ACARS Manager (Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System) cockpit display.(1) A partial description reads............
ACARS is set to auto mode (all boxes selected) at power-up or data communication system reset................. If all boxes are deselected, ACARS loses the capability to send downlink messages, (transmit - Satcom is "off") but can receive and display uplink messages.
Right in the center of the ACARS Manager screen you will see the switch marked “SATCOM ENABLE” if you deselect it SATCOM is OFF!
(A complete description of the above (with visuals) is referenced below)
So, we've shown that in spite of Mike Exner's contentions the Satcom can be turned off in the cockpit and thus there is no need to access the E/E Bay for this purpose. That also blows up Wise's “sophisticated hijackers” and exoneration of the plane's captain. (Though I personally don't think the pilot was directly involved in any hijacking scheme, I don't believe that because of anything Wise has proposed)
Exner Right and Wrong?
I almost never agree with Mike Exner, but I find I must at least partially consider a statement he made in the comments section of the Jeff Wise article. He says:
.”..I still do not see any solid evidence that the lack of satcom communications between 1707 and 1825 was due to the power being off, much less *turned off* by a human.”
So, while we've shown Exner was wrong about the Satcom, he just may be right on this interesting point.
Where Does All This Leave Jeff Wise?
Apparently, Wise is out in the rain without his jacket. With no real need to enter the E/E Bay, Wise's entire scheme falls in on itself. Even though the E/E Bay looks inviting in the video presentation which accompanies the Wise article it actually raises more questions than it answers.
A major concern to this author is the age of the video. For instance in one portion of the footage shot down in the E/E Bay we see some electronic equipment marked, “Allied Signal.” The possible problem there is the fact that Allied Signal purchased Honeywell for $15 billion in 1999, and thereafter adopted the Honeywell name and identity. So, if that is any indicator at all we may be looking at a pre 911 production. Is the access door to the E/E Bay still left “unlocked” as we are shown in the video?
I'd also dare say, that since the E/E Bay is under the floor behind the cockpit and can only be accessed by removing a piece of cabin carpet, if you know it's there, you're probably going to get in whether it's “locked” or not. Even though Boeing has been excoriated recently for their lack of security regarding the E/E Bay (much of this criticism as a direct result of this video) one wonders if we're looking at a 15 year old video depiction whether it still has any relevance to today.
(1) Boeing 777 Systems Summary (Communication) SMART Cockpit.com pg 73-74
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Copyright 2014 – J.E. Fiorentino – All Rights Reserved
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