Malaysian Airlines Flight 370

Posted by PITHOCRATES - March 16th, 2014

Week in Review

There are a lot of airplanes in the air at any given time.  And, remarkably, over 99% of those planes reach their destinations safely.  So when one doesn’t it’s big news.  Such as Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.  A plane that has been missing since March 8, 2014.  Ten days as of this writing.  And still no one knows what happened.  There’s been a lot of speculation.  From pilot suicide to fire to electrical failure to catastrophic mechanical failure to a high jacking to piracy.  Some have even suggested that it may have been a trial run by terrorists to test a new terror plot.  To see the problems they may encounter.  And to see what the response would be.  If it wasn’t it might as well had been.  As all the speculators have given a wealth of information that terrorists might have gained had it been a trial run.

So what do we know?  Concretely?  The plane and the people aboard are missing.  Which is the only absolute we know.  Now what plausible assumptions can we make?  The plane crashed and we haven’t found it yet.  Or the plane was stolen.  For some future use.  If it crashed it is imperative to find it should there be an unknown issue with the Boeing 777.  An incredibly safe airliner to date.  And very popular with the airlines for their long-haul routes.  So if there is an unknown issue we need to know because there are so many of these flying.

Perhaps the more disturbing assumption is that it was stolen.  Because it is an intercontinental jetliner.  North Korea has missiles that can reach the United States.  Saddam Hussein had scud missiles that could reach Israel.  Iran has a nuclear program.  But may not have long-range missile technology.  A 777 provides long-range capability.  And if it was stolen it would be hard to blame any state for what may happen if that plane was used for some nefarious purpose.  As there would be no flight plan filed tracing it back to a departing airport.  Which is even a greater incentive to find it.  As a lot of people are talking about this possibility one would assume that great attention is being placed on runways long enough for a refueled 777 to take off from.  Which would be longer than one needed to land a 777 low on fuel.  And one could also assume that airborne radar is being used to try and catch anyone trying to fly at night below radar coverage.  Giving ample warning to scramble fighter jets to intercept the threat.  And shooting it down if necessary.  So even if it turns out that the airplane was stolen it would be very difficult to use that airplane for nefarious purposes.  But not impossible.

There would be a lot less speculation had that transponder remained turned on.  For if we can ‘see’ the airplane we know where it is.  A rather simple device that tells air traffic control everything they need to know about an airplane.  Which is important considering how many airplanes are in the sky at any one time.  Just to get an idea of how many you can watch a visualization of all air traffic over European airspace (see Watch an Entire Day of Air Traffic in One Astonishing Visualization by Kyle VanHemert posted 3/14/2014 on Wired).  So perhaps ‘hardening’ the transponder is the first thing we should be doing.  Something that can probably be done for little cost.  Say adding a rechargeable battery to the transponder that is only accessible from outside the aircraft.  So it is inaccessible during flight.  If the transponder is switched off and it transfers to battery it could broadcast the high jacking code.  While providing the plane’s location.  If the plane has a catastrophic breakup in flight the transponder could be in a hardened shell that keeps broadcasting during and after this event on battery power.  It may add some weight.  And some cost.  But if it can provide an aircraft’s location after an event it may prevent some of the uncertainty in future events like there is with Malaysian Airlines Flight 370.


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Environmentalists hate American Bald Eagles and Urge the Building of Eagle Killing Machines

Posted by PITHOCRATES - November 23rd, 2013

Week in Review

We have spent billions building wind farms all over the world.  To fight the rise of manmade global warming.  By replacing dirty, filthy, polluting, carbon-producing, global-warming-generating coal-fired power plants.  Which haven’t replaced many if any coal-fired power plants.  Because we still need those coal-fired power plants to provide electric power when the wind doesn’t blow.  Or blows too strong.  Making the whole wind power industry a costly joke.  Well, a costly sad joke.  As those great spinning killing machines are killing some of our most precious natural resources.  American Bald Eagles (see Energy company to pay out $1m over eagle deaths at wind farms by AP posted 11/23/2013 on The Telegraph).

The U.S. government for the first time has enforced environmental laws protecting birds against wind energy facilities, winning a $1 million settlement from a power company that pleaded guilty to killing 14 eagles and 149 other birds at two wind farms in the western state of Wyoming.

The Obama administration has championed pollution-free wind power and used the same law against oil companies and power companies for drowning and electrocuting birds. The case against Duke Energy Corp. and its renewable energy arm was the first prosecuted under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act against a wind energy company…

An investigation by The Associated Press in May revealed dozens of eagle deaths from wind energy facilities, including at Duke’s Top of the World farm outside Casper, Wyoming, the deadliest for eagles of 15 such facilities that Duke operates nationwide. The other wind farm included in the settlement is in nearby Campbell Hill…

A study in September by federal biologists found that wind turbines had killed at least 67 bald and golden eagles since 2008. That did not include deaths at Altamont Pass, an area in northern California where wind farms kill an estimated 60 eagles a year.

Until Friday’s announcement, not a single wind energy company had been prosecuted for a death of an eagle or other protected bird – even though each death is a violation of federal law…

Wind farms are clusters of turbines as tall as 30-story buildings, with spinning rotors as wide as a passenger jet’s wingspan. Though the blades appear to move slowly, they can reach speeds up to 170mph at the tips, creating tornado-like vortexes.

Flying eagles behave like drivers texting on their cellphones; they don’t look up. As they scan for food, they don’t notice the industrial turbine blades until it’s too late…

Once a wind farm is built, there is little a company can do to stop the deaths. Some firms have tried using radar to detect birds and to shut down the turbines when they get too close. Others have used human spotters to warn when birds are flying too close to the blades. Another tactic has been to remove vegetation to reduce the prey the birds like to eat.

As part of the agreement, Duke will continue to use field biologists to identify eagles and shut down turbines when they get too close. It will install new radar technology, similar to what is used in Afghanistan to track missiles. And it will continue to voluntarily report all eagle and bird deaths to the government.

Here’s a thought.  Instead of spending billions to build wind turbines.  And additional God knows how much more for radar technology and human bird spotters to shut down the wind turbines when birds are near.  Or razing the earth to kill the ecosystem for the wildlife that eagles feed on.  Instead of doing these things why not just use coal-fired power plants?  After all, what do you think will provide our electric power when radar or those human spotters shut down those wind turbines?  That’s right.  Coal-fired power plants.

Of course the environmentalists hate the modern industrial world.  And using energy to raise our standard of living.  They’d like to go back to a time when we grew our own food.  And spun our own clothing.  For them the modern world is an obscene abomination to them.  With America being the worst.  As we are the most advanced nation in the world.

It’s bad enough the environmentalists are raising the cost of electric power with their renewable energy nonsense.  But they’re also killing American Bald Eagles.  Sure, the glorious American Bald Eagle may not be as important to them as a forest rodent (preventing the cutting of firebreaks in forests to prevent the spread of forest fires) or delta smelt (shutting down the irrigation pumps in California’s Central Valley that provides much of our food), but they are a living creature, too.  And should be allowed to live freely in their habitat.  Then again, perhaps they don’t care about the American Bald Eagle.  As it is America’s national bird.  And they just hate America so much that they hate our national bird, too.


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