Tag Archives: hazardous cargo

MH 370 and UPS 6 near Dubai, 2010: Same Mishap Repeated?

100_3975When UPS 6 crashed near Dubai in the evening of September 3, 2010,  (www.gcaa.gov.ae/…/2010-Interim%20R.) (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/UPS_Airlines_Flight_6) the crew had been in a battle for their lives for about 20 minutes. Upon first realizing cargo area temperatures were rising and that smoke and fumes were entering the cockpit, the crew made a turn towards a divert field, began a descent to landing, put on their oxygen masks and attempted to quell the fire.  The crew was overcome by the smoke and heat, despite their best efforts and the plane crashed while the crew was attempting an approach to land. Communications with air traffic control were immediately effected by both the use of oxygen masks and the growing smoke and heat in the cockpit. Navigation and aviation back to the divert field were effected by the fire destroying electronic navigation components and flight control components. In essence, the crew was overcome and the plane was overcome by the fire in the cargo compartment. In the end, the plane crashed into the desert sand in the descent the crew had initiated.  The investigation revealed that a fire most likely caused by lithium batteries

About twenty minutes after MH 370 began its flight, the aviation, navigation and communication changed dramatically. Was it due to a fire caused by lithium batteries carried in the cargo hold? Was it due to an explosion or fire related to material brought aboard by terrorists? Though this may be unknown at this point of the investigation, the flight path of the flight, the changes in navigation and changes in communication both verbal and those by automated reporting systems seem to indicate high levels of similarities between these two mishaps.

Does failure of regulatory authorities to comprehend that a cargo aircraft mishap caused by a fire from hazardous cargo could one day lead to the loss of a passenger aircraft hauling the same cargo reveal a fallacy in regulatory logic?  Do regulators reason that until a loss occurs, there is no reason to restrict commerce? But what if the loss of an aircraft due to lithium battery caused fire is a cargo aircraft? Do regulators reason that only cargo aircraft should be restricted from carrying lithium batteries? Should regulators reason that passenger aircraft should also be restricted from carrying lithium batteries?

Are we looking at what is called regulatory two levels of safety, one for cargo flights and one for passenger flights? Is the great fallacy in regulation that passenger flights also haul massive amounts of air freight, and the attempt to create two levels of safety to carve out an exemption for cargo flights in reality results in no level of safety when it comes to carrying hazardous cargo?

Are MH 370 and UPS 6 essentially the same mishap recurring all over again? Was in fact MH 370 a preventable mishap?

Captain Paul Miller in cockpit

MH 370: Probable Location for Search Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, Missing B777 Was Hazardous Cargo Aboard?

MH 370: Probable Location for Search

Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, Missing B777

Was Hazardous Cargo Aboard?

Are Cargo Safety Regulations Important for PASSENGER Aircraft Flights?  Two Levels of Safety May Mean No Level of Safety



MH 370 flight crew members witnessing an overheat in the large cargo compartments of their Boeing 777, would most likely do the following steps:

1. Don oxygen full face masks, check for full oxygen flow for breathing and clearing of smoke from eyes and reestablish communications via the mask microphones

2. Run fire suppression checklists

3. Begin divert to nearest available airport and begin descent for landing, with the goal of landing as soon as possible, certainly less than 20 minutes. But after the turn to divert, if the crew becomes incapacitated by smoke and fumes, the aircraft would continue to fly on whatever heading was established. Considering natural static and dynamic stability of many transport category airliners, such as the Boeing 777, the aircraft would remain flying while the nose of the aircraft oscillates slowly up and down to maintain  stability.

Looking at what is known about the flight path of MH370, the crew appears to make a sudden turn directly towards a very long 13,000 ft long runway airport. Communications by radio cease.  Fishermen at sea in the area of the 13,000 ft runway reported witnessing a large aircraft flying low during the time frame consistent with the flight parameters possible arrival in that area. This scenario is consistent with smoke and fumes in the aircraft for whatever reason may have been occurring on the flight.

The captain was an experienced international captain. The first officer was an experienced flight crew member [albeit reportedly with a tendency to invite friends and acquaintances  to the cockpit, although whether that was on the ground at terminal only has not been established].  The captain was resourceful by creating his own flight simulator at home, most likely for the purpose of training himself to perform the hundreds of standard operating procedures (SOP) required of B777 flight crew members during semi-annual regulatory checkrides. It is also quite probable that the captain invited  other crew members to join him in these SOP procedure training sessions. A check of the software companies who sell flight simulator software world wide reveals that tens of thousands of people own these same home simulators, some for professional training, some for entertainment. More than half a dozen vendors make this type of software  and it is globally available on the commercial software market.

Personal history of the flight crew members appears stable.  As with many flight crew members they have been long engaged in their profession and are dedicated to always learning more.

So where could investigators look next in their investigation? How about the known or unknown hazardous material that was loaded as cargo or baggage? Is not the cargo hold of  MH 370, a B777 is capable of hauling large weights of cargo? Was any cargo or baggage trans-shipped, that is, loaded aboard MH 370 from flights connecting booked passengers to Beijing? Who checked all of the cargo and baggage that was loaded onto MH 370? Who was supposed to check for hazardous material to ensure documentation or restriction of prohibited items from passenger flights? Who may have shipped cargo or baggage of prohibited items and why? Should not this more likely scenario be at a higher level of priority than looking at the captain’s personal flight simulator?

Hazardous cargo can catch fire and spread quickly. See the mishaps of the 1996 ValuJet crash in The Everglades outside of Miami, Florida or UPS 6, September,2010 in Dubai for substantiation. The Swiss Air 111 inflight fire again substantiates that time is very limited when a crew is dealing with this emergency.

Lobbyists for the airline passenger and for the cargo business side have long argued against comprehensive commercial airline hazardous cargo regs, convincing legislators and regulators that more regs are unnecessary as is enforcement. At the same time they haul for profit as much cargo as they can get their hands on, plus luggage containing uninspected material, shipped as innocent personal belongings. Two levels of safety may mean no level of safety.

My guess is that the aircraft is in the water not far from where the fishermen said it was, or flew in the direction that the fishermen said it headed and is located out that vector.