You may recall that a few months ago I spent some time valiantly helping search for a missing airliner MH370. I must admit, many other millions were involved. On Sunday, 23 March 2014 I wrote the following:
Finally, at what level of cost will governments begin to lose interest? I predict by the 35th day after the disappearance, when the black box pinger stops, everything will be scaled back, and the searchers will return to the statistics lab, until a bit of the tailplane shows up years later in a fishing net.
I think it is good to evaluate any predictions one makes, so as to avoid “paranormal publication bias”. Here are my calculations:
Date of disappearance 8 March, plus my predicted 35 days equals 12th April.
Actual date of announcement of (sort of) scaling back of search was 28 April, though they did it in various stages. April 28 (Day 52) - Search operation set to enter new phase with more focus to be given to a much larger underwater search area.
The current public posture is that the search is continuing, and that on May 5 (Day 59) - Search enters new phase on floor of southern Indian Ocean.
I count my prediction as not being accurate. My mistake was to assume they would stop when it was clear that the costs outweighed the benefits. I had allowed 5 days for face saving, which was far too short.
By virtue of searching so far away from Kuala Lumpur they acknowledge, de facto, that the plane was able to fly until the fuel ran out. So, they have virtually proved that there were no problems with the Boeing. The recently released flight path also makes it virtually impossible that the pilots and crew and passengers had all passed out because of some aircraft related problem, because the flight path shows intentionality, avoidance of land mass (and presumably radar) and the setting of a Southerly direction not the original Northerly one, or even the “take me back home” possibility of the Westerly one. Furthermore, the government knew all this within a few days of the disappearance, when aviation experts told them that they had never known the transponder and then the ACARS system go down naturally in the way it did in this plane. The systems were switched off. Investigators also wrote off the possibility of hijackers early on (no demands, no triumphant “taking of responsibility”, and confirmed it was unlikely two weeks later. It was also apparent they never checked passports against a central register, but that is another matter.
So, the Malaysian government faces the worst possible outcome: a Malaysian pilot or pilots took a Malaysian airways plane and deliberately flew it into the Southern Pacific, where it is very hard to find. A Malaysian problem. They have to review their personnel selection and health check procedures, and pilot/cabin staff security arrangements, which are best kept secret. They may have put in a third pilot since then, as a stop-gap procedure.
Remind me to keep checking any prediction I ever make.
The search continues, and continues.