The Destination

Punta

Punta Arenas, SA, courtesy Wikipedia

 

The original hypothesis and simple assumptions introduced a destination for MH370:  Punta Arenas, South America.  The complete path proposed in the original hypothesis looks like this on SkyVector.

A simple path, defined by the waypoints:  IGARI VPG VAMPI MEKAR RUNUT and SCCI.  

SCCI is the waypoint located at Punta Arenas, South America.  The path has changed little since it was first defined two weeks after the loss of MH370.  New data has come to light from the official investigation about what happened between IGARI and VPG for example.   I’m still not sure what additional waypoints may exist between MEKAR and RUNUT and these details are still debated by experts today.  In fact, few consider or only briefly consider waypoints beyond MEKAR, including the official search team (see aside below).  This is why I call it the Waypoint Hypothesis.

RUNUT to SCCI is the outlandish part of the hypothesis has remained the same as the original. This is where my hypothesis breaks off from every other.

The loneliest, remotest, roughest places on Earth. The yellow star depicts where MH370 is believed to have run out of fuel on the white RUNUT to SCCI waypoint path.

MH370 would never make it to Punta Arenas (SCCI), and the planner didn’t know where the plane would run out of fuel exactly, but this pathway provided a general target.  Maps of the search area rarely give you the perspective shown above of how remote this place is.   This target would result in MH370 running out of fuel in one of the remotest regions on Earth, far from land, equidistant between Africa and Australia, where debris is unlikely to ever be found, where nobody is likely to see it crash, where it is unlikely to be seen on any radar.

The closest inhabited land is the Kerguelen Islands belong to France and are a thinly populated research outpost with no ability to provide search capability or help and far enough away to not see anything if they were even looking.   You can reportedly tour them on one of four trips a year at € 13,000 for a single cabin for two weeks and with 2 weeks at sea to get there and back.  They are still some 1000 miles away.  You really couldn’t pick a better path to disappear a plane with the fuel available.  Of all the paths possible along the 7th arc, only this one just barely gets the plane to the “roaring forties” where rough seas have the potential to make recovery difficult if the plane is found, and smash any debris to bits and disappear it in the Antarctic Circumpolar Current.

The Waypoint Hypothesis needs another crucial piece of evidence to pinpoint the location of MH370 along the waypoint path.  For that, read X Marks the spot.

The prospects of searching this area next season are potentially looking grim.

Aside:  ASTB, in their Jun 2014 (updated Aug 2014) report considered some waypoints and airways , including RUNUT, but only ones consistent with a curving paths towards Australia and  locations along the 7th arc  that appear to have been abandoned.   They said the waypoint paths analyzed didn’t fit the satellite data as well as random paths, so waypoint paths were not used or searched in detail.  They never considered the Waypoint Hypothesis pathway.

A good primer on waypoints, navigation modes and ATSB analyses is here.

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One thought on “The Destination

  1. Pingback: Six independent degrees of support | The Waypoint Hypothesis

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