Airline safety

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The disappearance of Flight MH370 is the kind of mystery that should not be possible in the age of GPS satellites, interconnectedness, cloud computing and surveillance.

US officials believe the flight’s two communications systems were shut down separately – 14 minutes apart – which indicates the plane did not suffer a sudden catastrophic failure.

Despite these being inoperative, the plane still sent “pings” from its service data system (Acars) to a satellite rather like a cell phone does, even if it is not switched on.

These ceased after it had travelled a further five hours, but whether the plane had crashed or the “pings” to the satellite had been intentionally disabled is not known.

Off-hand passport control and news that one of the pilots often invited young women into the cockpit fuel suspicions about Malaysian Airways’ general lack of discipline.

And government officials are so stupendously inept that they evoke that comment in All the President’s Men about political appointees: “The fact is, these guys are not very bright.”

(Dr) John Cameron

Howard Place

St Andrews