The Waypoint Hypothesis

A simple hypothesis on the disappearance of MH370, developed March, 2014

X marks the spot

The Waypoint Hypothesis is one slash of an “X,” a simple waypoint pathway (how airliners typically navigate) that fits two simple criteria:

  • It matches the MH370 range indicated by the last satellite transmission (7th arc); and
  • It matches the estimated fuel range of MH370 flying a simple, straight pathway at optimal cruise speeds.

I formulated it a few weeks after MH370 disappeared. No other pathway fits the above criteria.  I knew in 2014 the pathway would require top speed of the 777 and every bit of fuel.  It wasn’t until 2018 that I confirmed that if MH370 flew this pathway, it likely ran out of fuel about 5 minutes from where satellite data indicates it should have (and statistical uncertainty indicates it could have run out of fuel exactly there).  The speed required to match satellite data is the optimal cruise speed for a Boeing 777, Mach 0.84.  It just so happens this path has the best satellite data fit of any straight path along the 7th arc (when speed adjustments are minimal, at least).  The Waypoint Hypothesis path provides the simplest explanation why the plane ran out of fuel – it flew straight and fast once to the middle of nowhere once it turned south past Indonesia.  It’s a very unusual coincidence that speed, path straightness and fuel range line up so perfectly.  Since 2014, the Waypoint Hypothesis has collected six independent degrees of supporting evidence, such as potential acoustic detections of the crash of MH370 very near the slash of the “X.” The point remains unsearched by early surface searches and later underwater searches as of 2018.

The convergence of waypoint path, fuel exhaustion, and 7th arc, other independent evidence and lack of search effort is very near S40.1743 E84.6945 and is illustrated in the figure below by the black slash.

The intersection of the fuel range provides two unique points along the arc as illustrated below:

Figure 20 from: MH370 – Definition of Underwater Search Areas (ATSB, June 2014)

The yellow line in the above figure is the MH370 fuel range (performance limit), and the white arc it intersects is the 7th arc representing the last satellite transmission.  Between the northern and southern performance limits, unless the plane loitered or wasted fuel somehow, the plane should have flown beyond the 7th arc to the yellow line.  Searches in these areas have not attempted to explain what would cause the fuel range to be less than expected.  Of the two limits that do not have this problem, only the southern limit matches the optimal cruise speed of Mach 0.84 for the Boeing 777.  I believe the plane flew to the southern limit, because someone was trying to make a plane disappear in one of the remotest places in the world.   X marks the spot.

In 2018, I undertook the task of examining whether all of the data and evidence collected in the nearly four years since disappearance indicates whether a point so far south is statistically infeasible.  So far they do not.


5 thoughts on “X marks the spot

  1. What makes sense is starting with the assumption that the plane was deliberately flown off course in an attempt to not be found, which is the only plausible explanation. The disabling of satcoms & transponders, lack of comms and the obvious route around Indonesia rules out the possibility of mechanical or software malfunction. Since the captain was almost certainly the only one on board known to have the skills along with a personal simulator and being the one likely at the controls during last communications, he’s by far the most likely suspect. His motivations remain unknown. We can also safely assume he didn’t know about the hourly pings since even Inmarsat barely knew about it. The problem is with the debris modelling being an unlikely matchup (but not impossible), but I don’t know how the CSIRO can be so confident in that. Why haven’t they done a simple 1 or 2 path search along the entire possible 7th arc? There’s a chance a wing or something might show up and lead to the main fuselage nearby. Why doesn’t the OI search do a pass on their way back home across the Indian Ocean? It would be worth it.


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