Destination of the Week
Hello and welcome to our final In Memory Of MH370 DOTW. This week takes us to a DOTW far away from the South Indian Ocean where Bluefin 21 is trying to locate the wreckage and especially the FDR and CVR. But there is a reason why this week's DOTW is in the United Kingdom, as the following story by Aviation Week explains.
The UK-based satellite communications company Inmarsat leveraged a “groundbreaking but traditional mathematics-based process” to analyze data from other flights that use its satellite network and establish a pattern that helped investigators nail down MH370’s final flight path as traveling south over the Indian Ocean, an Inmarsat executive explains. Inmarsat’s initial analysis, handed over to investigators on March 11, helped investigators establish the now-famous northern and southern arcs as possible flight corridors for MH370 after it dropped off radar on March 8 over the Andaman Sea.
Inmarsat VP External Communications Chris McLaughlin says the company continued to analyze its data, and concluded on March 23 that the aircraft’s last known position was in the middle of the Indian Ocean, well southwest of Perth. “What we discovered and what we passed to the investigation ... is that the southern path predicted fits very well with the path that’s been indicated by our pings,” McLaughlin says. “To all intents and purposes, there’s no way the aircraft went north.”
A key calculation done by Inmarsat was determining the “Doppler shift” in the ping, or the slight change in the frequency of the signal caused by the movement of the aircraft relative to the satellite in space. “From that process – a compression or an expansion of the wavelengths – you can determine whether the aircraft is getting closer or farther away,” McLaughlin explains. “It’s been a groundbreaking but traditional mathematics-based process that was then peer-reviewed by others in the space industry, and indeed contributed to by Boeing.” The data analyzed was generated by pings from MH370 to one of Inmarsat’s 10 satellites. McLaughlin likened the Inmarsat avionics and antenna on an aircraft to a mobile phone, while the applications that use the satcom link, including the Aircraft Communications and Reporting System (ACARS), are “apps.” On MH370, “the apps were turned off, but the handset wasn’t,” he explains.
[Indeed, the B777's ACARS and transponder had been switched off and no longer communicated the aircraft's position to ground systems.]
Since MH370 was not sending routine communications, the Inmarsat satellite was sending hourly “polling signals” to the Boeing 777. So long as the aircraft was operating, acknowledgement signals came back. “This includes its unique identification code, and confirmation the aircraft satcom is still operating and available for communications, if required,” Inmarsat explains on its website. Inmarsat used these signals to establish that MH370 was in the air for about 6 hours after other copmmunication means had been cut off. The deeper analysis helped the company and UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) investigators narrow down the final ping to a remote area over the southern Indian Ocean.
There is a second reason why the AAIB is involved in the investigation. The Malaysian Airlines B777 was equiped with Rolls-Royce Trent engines.
The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) investigates air accidents mainly in the United Kingdom. It is a branch of the Department for Transport and is based on the grounds of Farnborough Airport in Farnborough, Hampshire.
Aviation accident investigation in the United Kingdom started in 1912, when the Royal Aero Club published a report into a fatal accident at Brooklands Aerodrome, Surrey. The AAIB was established in 1915 as the Accidents Investigation Branch (AIB) of the Royal Flying Corps (RFC). After the end of World War I, the Department of Civil Aviation was set up in the Air Ministry and the AIB became part of that Department with a remit to investigate both civil and military aviation accidents. Following the Second World War a Ministry of Civil Aviation was established and in 1946 the AIB was transferred to it, but continued to assist the Royal Air Force with accident investigations - a relationship that still exists today. After working under various parent ministries, including the Department of Trade, the AIB moved to the then Department of Transport in 1983 and in 1987 its name was changed to the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB).
The AAIB conducts investigations defined under one of two categories; "Accident" or "Serious Incident". An "Accident" occurs where a person suffers a fatal or serious injury, the aircraft sustains damage or structural failure which adversely affects its performance, or where the aircraft is missing or inaccessible. A "Serious Incident" means an incident where an accident nearly occurred.
In accordance with the protocols detailed in ICAO Annex 13 concerning aircraft accident investigation, the UK, as the state of manufacture of the engines, appointed an accredited AAIB representative, supported by advisors from the AAIB, Rolls-Royce and Inmarsat, to join the international investigative team into the loss of MH370.
The AAIB's headquarters are located within the perimeter of Farnborough Airport or TAG London Farnborough Airport (EGLF), previously called RAE Farnborough (EGUF). This operational business/executive general aviation airport is located in Farnborough, Rushmoor, Hampshire. The 310-hectare (770-acre) airport is owned by TAG and has a CAA Ordinary Licence that allows flights for the public transport of passengers or for flying instruction as authorised by the licensee (TAG Farnborough Airport Limited). The airfield is the home of the Farnborough Airshow which is held in even numbered years.
Farnborough Airport has a long history, beginning at the start of the 20th century with the creation of His Majesty's Balloon Factory and the first powered flight in Britain in 1908. This subsequently became the Royal Aircraft Establishment, a connection which continues in the Farnborough Air Sciences Trust museum. The first powered flight in Britain was at Farnborough on 5 October 1908, when Samuel Cody took off in his British Army Aeroplane No 1. Farnborough airfield and RAE was bombed by Germany on the 13th August 1940 by a flight of Junkers 88 A-1’s from the KG54 squadron during World War 2. The civil enclave was operated by Farnborough Business Aviation until 2003, when the Ministry of Defence stopped operations at Farnborough. All experimental aircraft were moved to MoD Boscombe Down; the airport was taken over by TAG Aviation. Commercial defence research by research firm QinetiQ continues in the adjoining Cody Technology Park.
After TAG took control of the airport from the MOD, it invested in a series of new infrastructure projects, including a new radar unit, and resurfaced the runway. The most striking new and award winning constructions were a new control tower, a large hangar unit and a brand new terminal building that opened in 2006, all designed by Reid Architecture and Buro Happold. The terminal was formally opened by HRH Prince Andrew. TAG Aviation is a multinational business aviation operator, with aircraft based in Farnborough, Switzerland and Madrid. Business aviation has grown from a low level in 1989 to around 23,000 movements in 2013. The airport is home to a number of the UK's largest business jet companies, including Gama Aviation Executive Jet Charter and Bookajet.
Farnborough Airport sees the bulk of its traffic from conventional business jets, such as the Cessna Citation, the Gulfstream, the Dassault Falcon, the Learjet, the Bombardier Challenger, the Bombardier Global 5000, the Bombardier Global XRS and the BAe 125. The airport is also popular with operators of larger aircraft, such as the Boeing 737 and Airbus A319 - however, the use of these types is heavily restricted, with nothing larger than a 737-800 permitted except during the airshow.
Farnborough Airfield appeared in the 2008 James Bond film Quantum of Solace, as the Austrian airport from which Bond flies.
EGLF has a single runway:
06/24, 2,440 m, 8,005 ft
Live flight tracking is available here.
We can guide you to charts and scenery files.
And now it's time for our video selection. Farnborough Airport has made it easy to pick the best videosm because it has a dedicated YouTube channel. Let's start with a landing onto RWY06 as filmed from the flightdeck.
The second cockpit landing shows more flightdeck duties.
Our third video is a Gulfstream IV about to take off from RWY24.
Farnborough is the location for one of the most famous air shows, and we kept some show videos for the end of this series. Two years ago, the B787 was still a brand new aircraft. Here is a Qatar Airways Dreamliner on final approach to RWY06.
Let's go back into nostalgia now, with an Avro Vulcan landing.
And we end with a mighty A380 about to depart.
And this concludes our In memory Of MH370 series.