Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Boeing 777 Pilots: It's Not Easy To Disable Onboard Communications (No idea)
NPR ^ | March 14, 2014 | Scott Newman

Posted on 03/14/2014 5:04:12 PM PDT by Drango

Commercial aviation pilots tell NPR that they would have no idea how to disable all the systems designed to automatically communicate with ground stations, though they could probably figure it out from checklists and other documentation available aboard an aircraft.

Aircraft such as the Malaysia Airlines Boeing 777, which disappeared over the Gulf of Thailand a week ago, are equipped with transponders that give their position to air traffic control. The transponders can be switched off with a flick of a switch. But modern planes like the 777 have two other systems as well: cockpit radios and a text-based system known as aircraft communications addressing and reporting system, or ACARS, which can be used to send messages or information about the plane.

But the plane's transponder appears to have been intentionally shut off and the ACARS may have been shut down as well.

Turning off the radios and ACARS would be more difficult. NPR's Geoff Brumfiel spoke with commercial pilots, including two who have flown Boeing 777s similar to the jet that vanished with 239 people aboard. He says the pilots tell him that those systems are "pretty hard-wired into a modern aircraft.

"They said you'd have to go through big checklists, you'd have to possibly pull circuit breakers if you wanted to deactivate [all the communications equipment],"

"So, to do this, you'd have to have some degree of premeditation and a lot of knowledge of the aircraft," he says.

Even without those systems, the plane's satellite antenna appears to have kept communicating for at least 5 1/2 hours after Malaysia Air MH370 disappeared from air-traffic controllers' radar.

"That's caused many to speculate that somebody tried to make this plane vanish," Brumfiel says.

"Every hour, [a] satellite would send a signal going, 'Are you still there?' and the plane would send a signal back saying, 'Yep, I'm here,' " he says, adding that for whatever reason — possibly because Malaysia Airlines hadn't paid a nominal fee to providers, there was apparently no avionics data being relayed from the aircraft.

Even so, he says, "it may be possible that the company that owns the satellite, Inmarsat, might be able to get a sense of where the plane was, where it was moving and what it was doing."

Meanwhile, a U.S. government official who is being updated on progress of the investigation says the working theory remains "air piracy," an umbrella term that could mean either the pilot or someone else commandeered the aircraft.

NPR's Tom Bowman reports that a U.S. official familiar with the investigation says that U.S. government agencies are working with their Indian counterparts to take a close look at radar data to see if the plane flew over the Indian Ocean, as one theory suggests.

Bowman says Malaysia has asked the U.S. Navy to send the destroyer USS Kidd to the Andaman Sea to patrol, and a P-3 Orion anti-submarine plane has searched west of the Malaysian peninsula to roughly the island of Sri Lanka, a distance of about 1,000 linear miles. The Navy is now sending another aircraft, a P-8, which has more surface search radar, to the Bay of Bengal, after Malaysia requested a search in that area.


TOPICS: Extended News; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: boeing; iran; malaysia; mh370; waronterror
No idea said the pilots.

Interesting...

1 posted on 03/14/2014 5:04:12 PM PDT by Drango
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: Drango

Everything is easy if you know how to do it.


2 posted on 03/14/2014 5:05:41 PM PDT by Rokurota
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Drango

Great now they are in on the cover up


3 posted on 03/14/2014 5:06:33 PM PDT by al baby (Hi MomÂ… I was refereeing to Obama)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Drango

Senior pilot was a tech geek who had his own flight simulator at home...


4 posted on 03/14/2014 5:08:38 PM PDT by exinnj
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Rokurota

It is doable if you board the plane with the knowledge of such and the intention of such. The average pilot would not.


5 posted on 03/14/2014 5:08:54 PM PDT by dirtboy
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Drango

This thing just gets curiouser and curiouser.


6 posted on 03/14/2014 5:09:22 PM PDT by colorado tanker
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Drango
Which leads to the question which I've had for along time…

…which is: just how well are we checking out everyone who's servicing the planes?

7 posted on 03/14/2014 5:10:04 PM PDT by Yossarian
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Drango
The Korea pilots had no idea on how to land a plane without the computer. I suppose one of the stolen passports holders could have been an electronics expert for that model of plane.
8 posted on 03/14/2014 5:10:13 PM PDT by mountainlion
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Drango; a fool in paradise

It’s time that somebody brought up an Occam’s Razor to this investigation.


9 posted on 03/14/2014 5:12:01 PM PDT by Revolting cat! (Bad things are wrong! Ice cream is delicious! We reserve the right to serve refuse to anyone!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Drango
the plane's satellite antenna appears to have kept communicating for at least 5 1/2 hours after Malaysia Air MH370 disappeared from air-traffic controllers' radar.

That's news to me. I heard it was about 4 hours after disappearance, or 5 hours after takeoff, and that was disputed by Boeing and Mal Air anyway.

10 posted on 03/14/2014 5:15:25 PM PDT by Izzy Dunne (Hello, I'm a TAGLINE virus. Please help me spread by copying me into YOUR tag line.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Drango
"So, to do this, you'd have to have some degree of premeditation and a lot of knowledge of the aircraft," he says.

That's an incredibly mundane thing to say.

11 posted on 03/14/2014 5:16:10 PM PDT by Izzy Dunne (Hello, I'm a TAGLINE virus. Please help me spread by copying me into YOUR tag line.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Drango
From another article...

...And Captain Zaharie was said to be so keen to maintain his high professionalism that he had even set up a flight simulator in his own home.

12 posted on 03/14/2014 5:18:25 PM PDT by Vince Ferrer
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Drango

Does anybody think that NPR is worth the money poured into it?


13 posted on 03/14/2014 5:18:37 PM PDT by Izzy Dunne (Hello, I'm a TAGLINE virus. Please help me spread by copying me into YOUR tag line.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Drango

I don’t know if this story is accurate or not, but, could it be that any pilot who would speak to NPR possibly isn’t the brightest of the bunch?

I know if NPR called me to talk to me about my job, I’d tell them to go pound sand.


14 posted on 03/14/2014 5:19:37 PM PDT by chrisser (Senseless legislation does nothing to solve senseless violence.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Drango

The more I read about this, the more convinced I am that it was some kind of freak, once-in-a-million-years occurrence, and that nothing sinister is involved.


15 posted on 03/14/2014 5:22:47 PM PDT by Mr Ramsbotham (Laws against sodomy are honored in the breech.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Izzy Dunne
That's an incredibly mundane thing to say.

Yep, the headline tells the story they want to to see and remember, and the body buries the truth they want you to miss.

16 posted on 03/14/2014 5:22:57 PM PDT by null and void ( Obama is Law-Less because Republican "leaders" are BALL-LESS!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: Drango

There is no such thing as signal intelligence.

There is no such thing as electronic warfare.

There is no such thing as “spoofing.”

Therefore pilots cannot learn anything about that stuff.


17 posted on 03/14/2014 5:24:58 PM PDT by Unknowing (Now is the time for all smart little girls to come to the aid of their country.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Izzy Dunne
Does anybody think that NPR is worth the money poured into it?

Democrats and communists?

18 posted on 03/14/2014 5:25:28 PM PDT by null and void ( Obama is Law-Less because Republican "leaders" are BALL-LESS!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: Mr Ramsbotham

The more I read about this, the more I wish that there be no explanation whatsoever ever, like when my socks disappear in laundry!


19 posted on 03/14/2014 5:27:42 PM PDT by Revolting cat! (Bad things are wrong! Ice cream is delicious! We reserve the right to serve refuse to anyone!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: Drango
From a CNN story:

If Malaysia Air Flight 370 was indeed commandeered, the person or people responsible for it knew enough about civil aviation to know how to turn off the transponder. Of course, this is exactly what happened with three out of the four planes that were hijacked on 9/11 so it's a technique that is not unknown.

20 posted on 03/14/2014 5:27:55 PM PDT by Izzy Dunne (Hello, I'm a TAGLINE virus. Please help me spread by copying me into YOUR tag line.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: mountainlion

Not to cast aspersions, but there were no less than 20 people onboard that plane that worked for a computer software company.

CC


21 posted on 03/14/2014 5:34:17 PM PDT by Celtic Conservative (tease not the dragon for thou art crunchy when roasted and taste good with ketchup)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: dirtboy

A Boeing employee might know. Or other techies. The passenger list is crucial to this investigation, I think.


22 posted on 03/14/2014 5:38:43 PM PDT by Veto! (Opinions freely dispensed as advice)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 5 | View Replies]

To: chrisser

Me Too.


23 posted on 03/14/2014 5:49:25 PM PDT by therut
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: Drango

“That’s caused many to speculate that somebody tried to make this plane vanish,” Brumfiel says. “

And it worked. :-)


24 posted on 03/14/2014 5:49:30 PM PDT by Georgia Girl 2 (The only purpose o f a pistol is to fight your way back to the rifle you should never have dropped.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Drango
So the satellite sends out a “Hello” packet... wonder if its a general multcast type hello to all aircraft on net and each aircraft id itself in its reply..because this case is so so strange I'm wondering if someone would “spoof” that aircraft to make people think it was still in the air
25 posted on 03/14/2014 5:52:23 PM PDT by tophat9000 (Are we headed to a Cracker Slacker War?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: chrisser
I don’t know if this story is accurate or not, but, could it be that any pilot who would speak to NPR possibly isn’t the brightest of the bunch?

I hate to say it, but it is probably the most accurate story about pilot knowledge of the communication systems on the 777. Shutting down the ACARS is not something someone could do without specific training on the 777. Boeing airplanes are pretty standard, but there are major differences in how the ACARS is set up and functions in the 767, 777, and the 747.

26 posted on 03/14/2014 6:00:20 PM PDT by ALPAPilot
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: ALPAPilot

If ACARS on say a routine flight quits working or trips a breaker does the crew get any notificiation? Audible or visiual cue?


27 posted on 03/14/2014 6:15:25 PM PDT by Rockpile
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 26 | View Replies]

To: Celtic Conservative

So do I. And I wouldn’t have a clue.


28 posted on 03/14/2014 6:58:14 PM PDT by bigdaddy45
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 21 | View Replies]

To: Mr Ramsbotham

I agree, none of the information that has come out about all this deviating and turning back has been absolutely confirmed by Boeing, the engine makers, the US government or the Malaysian or Chinese government, it’s all coming from “anonymous sources”.

My suspicion is that when the plane is found, it will be found near where it was supposed to be and a simple catastrophic failure caused by pilot error, mechanical failure or an old-fashioned bomb will be the explanation.


29 posted on 03/14/2014 7:01:52 PM PDT by PotatoHeadMick
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]

To: PotatoHeadMick
...none of the information that has come out about all this deviating and turning back has been absolutely confirmed by Boeing, the engine makers, the US government or the Malaysian or Chinese government, it’s all coming from “anonymous sources”.

I believe the satellite "pinging" has been confirmed by Inmarsat.

30 posted on 03/14/2014 7:13:43 PM PDT by okie01 (The Mainstream Media -- IGNORANCE ON PARADE)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 29 | View Replies]

To: Drango
Let me put it this way. It is strange sometimes who knows how to do what, and who doesn't. Just because someone doesn't have a certificate on their wall and a card in their pocket does not preclude the sort of intensive, almost fanatical study that will have them know a system, a piece of equipment, a program better than perhaps everyone but those who engineered it.

What these pilots know or don't only indicates that whoever turned those systems off (provided someone did) had taken enough time to do their homework and learn how, and that (at least some) pilots normally don't bother or need to learn these things. Their not knowing doesn't preclude someone else knowing, it just indicates the knowledge is apparently not common knowledge among the pilots.

31 posted on 03/14/2014 7:25:38 PM PDT by Smokin' Joe (How often God must weep at humans' folly. Stand fast. God knows what He is doing.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: tophat9000

The transponder is shut off with a switch by pilots, the ACARS system requires a breaker to be pulled in the lower electonics bay, it reqires some knowledge.


32 posted on 03/14/2014 7:43:59 PM PDT by ully2
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: Drango
A very little bit of studying, it would be very easy to pull the circuit breakers of any/all comm equipment. In heavies, they are accessible by the pilot and crew.


33 posted on 03/14/2014 7:49:36 PM PDT by Jet Jaguar
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Drango
Can anyone explain this? (Was a experienced pilot flying at this point or not?)

The New York Times, quoting American officials and others familiar with the investigation, said radar signals recorded by the Malaysian military appear to show the airliner climbing to 45,000 feet (about 13,700 meters), higher than a Boeing 777's approved limit, soon after it disappeared from civilian radar, and making a sharp turn to the west. The radar track then shows the plane descending unevenly to an altitude of 23,000 feet (7,000 meters), below normal cruising levels, before rising again and flying northwest over the Strait of Malacca toward the Indian Ocean, the Times reported.
34 posted on 03/14/2014 7:58:57 PM PDT by stlnative
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Rokurota

It’s easy if that’s what you as a passport stealing terrorist, have been trained to do. Some terrorists pilots don’t bother learning to land or take off. Call them specialists.


35 posted on 03/14/2014 8:45:39 PM PDT by Old Yeller (In Latin, the word sinister means left. Which is appropriate for left-wingers.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Drango
Commercial aviation pilots tell NPR that they would have no idea how to disable all the systems designed to automatically communicate with ground stations, though they could probably figure it out from checklists and other documentation available aboard an aircraft...I'll bet they might be able to figure it out if they had enough motivation - say they wanted to hijack a plane - even those stupid enough to want to talk to NPR.....
36 posted on 03/14/2014 9:23:12 PM PDT by Intolerant in NJ
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Drango
I'm sure the systems are well protected, but isn't the B777 an all electric, software driven airplane with pilots controlling the computers that are actually controlling the airplane? Is anything completely dependent on software truly hack proof?

If you can get access to where the boxes that are and control the various systems on the airplane are located, you can turn them off by simply by disconnecting the cables hooked up to them.

Regardless, the pilots should be able to turn anything on the panel off, either by its power knob or switch or by the breaker.

If the plane crashed, there's a decent chance the ELT(s) should be broadcasting as designed unless damaged or destroyed.

Information is controlled these days, so are we, the masses, up to speed on what is actually known or are we being strung along like with most everything else on the one stream media?

37 posted on 03/14/2014 9:30:46 PM PDT by GBA (Here in the Matrix, life is but a dream.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: stlnative

If the pilot was pulling circuit beakers to shut off comm and nav systems to disable them, I could see him shutting off the radar altimeter. Then as he is flying, he has to rely on air data instruments. If they were not calibrated correctly, or he did not have accurate barometric pressure settings, the altimeter could be off by several hundred feet at that altitude.


38 posted on 03/14/2014 9:31:50 PM PDT by Jet Jaguar
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 34 | View Replies]

To: stlnative

If the pilot was pulling circuit beakers (or hijacker)

Added.


39 posted on 03/14/2014 9:58:31 PM PDT by Jet Jaguar
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 34 | View Replies]

To: Drango

from what I understand, the “pings” were from the engines, not the cockpit...Rolls Royce has it built into their engines.

But one wonders why none of the tech guys etc. didn’t manage to call home? Anyone know the technical aspects of this?


40 posted on 03/14/2014 11:26:59 PM PDT by LadyDoc (liberals only love politically correct poor people)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Drango; WildHighlander57; hoosiermama; LucyT

“Boeing 777 Pilots: It’s Not Easy To Disable Onboard Communications”

http://www.nst.com.my/latest/font-color-red-missing-mh370-font-father-of-mas-engineer-shocked-over-news-of-son-missing-1.503035

MISSING MH370: Father of MAS engineer shocked over news of son missing

BERA: Malaysia Airlines (MAS) engineer Mohd Khairul Amri Selamat was assigned to Beijing to carry out repair works on MAS aircraft but unfortunately, the 28-year-old never made it to his destination.

(snip)


41 posted on 03/15/2014 12:53:46 AM PDT by maggief
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Rockpile
If ACARS on say a routine flight quits working or trips a breaker does the crew get any notificiation? Audible or visiual cue?

Sort of. If the Satellite voice goes out, we get a message on the EICAS (engine instrument display). If Satellite data goes out, we get the message and a link to the short checklist. Out of VHF range if we lose satellite data, we lose the ACARS.

With other types of failures, we would figure it out when we went to use it. It's used all the time. Takeoff Data, weather, release verifications, ATIS etc. all come through the ACARS. Consequently, ACARS problems create a big increase in workload.

42 posted on 03/15/2014 12:55:57 AM PDT by ALPAPilot
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 27 | View Replies]

To: ALPAPilot

Thanks. Had one of my brothers been hired after when he applied at
that big desert overhaul field in Calif.-— but they only wanted big jet Maintenance experience and his was F4—F16—F111-—T38 and F5; OR when he applied at Renton with Boeing( but they were about to do layoffs) ; then I’d have been querying him on stuff.


43 posted on 03/15/2014 1:26:11 AM PDT by Rockpile
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 42 | View Replies]

To: Drango

That’s why he had a flight simulator at home — so that he could practice doing those things that most pilots would never do in a lifetime of flying.


44 posted on 03/15/2014 12:42:18 PM PDT by Uncle Chip
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
News/Activism
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson