The Indian Ocean is full of flotsam. It is well known that containers fall overboard from ships that traverse the region known as the roaring 40s. During the search for wreckage relating to the missing Malaysian Airlines flight, there have been lots of objects turn up on satellite, but most of it is nothing more than flotsam.
The search area has been moved to the north of the original search area due to a recalculation of the prospective air speed of the missing aircraft. More and more sightings are being made of what could be wreckage but what is more likely to be flotsam.
In the meantime there is more speculation about what might have occurred on board the aircraft. There are now at least 2 possibilities that are in my view plausible explanations as to why the transponder stopped working at a particular point in time. Both of these scenarios are plausible because they involve “recall” or “maintenance” notices for all Boeing aircraft.
The first of these is the possibility that the bracket holding the transponder was cracked and that something gave way. This would have caused a hole and as a result there would have been de-pressurisation of the aircraft. Boeing had made a notification to all airlines maintenance staff to check the transponder bracket for cracks. This remains a plausible scenario for the time being.
The second possibility is that of a fire in the cockpit. This is also plausible as explained by other aircraft captains. An El Al flight at Heathrow had to be abandoned because of such a fire, and the aircraft had to be scrapped because of the damage caused by the fire. If there was a fire caused by faulty wiring then the cockpit crew would have been concentrating first on getting the fire under control (read that as extinguishing the fire) and then trying to find somewhere to land the plane safely. The fact that the aircraft turned as if it was returning to Kuala Lumpur or to at least find a landing strip close by is circumstantial evidence that this particular scenario is highly probable. Within this scenario the pilot and co-pilot had a small window of opportunity and if they were knocked out because of the lack of oxygen then that would partially why the flight continued until it ran out of fuel.
Today, the searchers are looking to find objects that have been spotted by aircraft, not just by satellite. If this new discovery turns out to be aircraft wreckage then the salvage operation can begin in earnest. However, a word of caution here. Until actual wreckage is removed from the ocean, then all we have so far is nothing more than flotsam, which is something like space junk!!
UPDATE: It has been announced that my former neighbour in Townsville, the retired Chief of Defence, Air Marshall Angus Houston has been appointed to co-ordinate the search for the missing aircraft. Angus is a man who is more than capable to do the role to which he has been appointed. The co-ordination plan is a good one and it will provide a one stop shop for all involved in this whole drama, including the grieving relatives.
UPDATE: Regarding the so-called criminal investigation.
Once again the media is guilty of creating mischief and the usual suspect bloggers have been jumping to erroneous conclusions. The investigations of everything connected to the flight continues. The pilot has been cleared by the FBI or whoever it was that had a look at his simulator. He liked to play simulator computer games!! Other comments regarding the mental health condition of the pilot are to be taken with a grain of salt until after wreckage has been found. The lastest information that I have seen is that the Malaysian authorities are investigating the idea that the food served on board was poisoned. They are also investigating a consignment of mangosteens. HOWEVER, like all other investigations to date, the chances that they will come up empty-handed again remains strong. It could be that they are barking up the wrong tree.
The search area has moved slightly to the north, under the direction of Angus Houston who is now in charge of co-ordinating the whole search effort. As I have already explained, Angus has extensive experience as an Air Force pilot in search and rescue missions. As the former Chief of the Defence Forces, Angus Houston is an excellent pick for the role of co-ordinating the various countries involved in the search. He has all the necessary diplomatic skills for the job.