IFE on MH370 could have shown change of course

Rotation

If the inflight entertainment system on board Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 was switched on during that fateful flight then passengers would have been able to see the plane change course on the moving map presuming they were conscious, say industry experts

Malaysia Airlines’ Boeing 777-200, which is fitted with the Panasonic Avionics System 3000i IFE platform, receives data from the aircraft’s flight management system (FMS) and “then draws the map”, says an industry expert, adding, “I am sure it will be the Panasonic iXplor product” on the IFE.

The iXplor product is a software-based interactive flight information and mapping application. “Passengers would have been able to see their current position, the previous flight path and the current flight information. So they will have known where they were, if of course the IFE was not switched off,” said this expert.

His comments were confirmed by a second industry insider who said, “Passengers would have seen it [the plane on the moving map] change course, had they been launching the map.”

But we must stress several caveats. Until we know otherwise, the reality is there might very well have been an electrical failure on board the aircraft, and the systems could have turned off as a result. Much of the commentary coming out of this investigation – even from authorities in some cases -seems to point to a deliberate action because the transponder and later the ACARS system turned off, yet satellite pings indicate the aircraft could have flown for hours.

But there is also a very real possibility that it was not a deliberate action. It could have been cascading electrical failures; it could have been a fire. There could have been a slight depressurization in one of the compartments that led to equipment freezing. There are so many possibilities.

RGN feels its important to highlight the possible passenger experience (#PaxEx) on board that aircraft because we pay close attention to the inflight entertainment and connectivity market – and its impact on #PaxEx – and we have fielded multiple requests from travelers and readers about whether or not passengers might have known that MH370 had veered off its intended path between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing by simply viewing the moving map on the IFE system.

The answer to their question is ‘yes’, if the system was switched on and passengers were conscious.

4 Comments

  1. Mary,
    Glad you tracked this down, however chilling. Just to note that each day the house of cards that seemed to suggest deliberate action by the pilots gets closer to total collapse. I give it another day before all of the investigators previously stated reasons for suggesting this evaporate. See my post on the subject here. http://www.christinenegroni.blogspot.com/2014/03/one-data-point-focused-reminder-in.html
    You make all of us “Runway Girls” very proud.
    Christine

  2. Jean-Luc Esnouf

    Should, would… I don’t get the point of this article, adding more to the gossip to this tragedy and mistery to be solved.

    I clearly miss some general humility, and do not understand the words: “In-Flight Entertainement”, “Passenger Experience on-board that A/C”, and “market” in conjunction with this tragedy… Sorry

    • Mary Kirby
      Author

      Hi Jean-Luc,

      If you’re new to RGN, I can understand your concern. But this particular web site provides *a lot* of coverage of the IFEC world and it’s impact on the passenger experience (known as #PaxEx on Twitter). The article you’re referencing was written in response to copious requests from readers on social media, asking what moving map technology was on board and what passengers *might* have seen if they were watching the moving map (which is considered the most popular channel on virtually all IFE systems). We believe it’s a valid question, and therefore sought to answer it.

      Best,

      Mary

  3. “In-Fligh Entertainement” refers primarily to seat-back audio-visual entertainments units across aircraft cabins — examples are KrisWorld on Singapore Airlines & Ice on Emirates Airline. The units formerly focussed on providing on-demand video & gaming to passengers but more recent developments have seen a very strong focus on inflight connectivity, taking the entertainment onto passenger mobile devices (BYOD – bring your own device).

    Passenger experience of course looks at a travellers experience at airport gates and inside aircraft cabins — obviously, a key feature driving PaxEx is airline investment in new equipment and upgrades. PaxEx also has a very strong focus on passenger safety because the industry is built on that vital trust factor.

    Safety is the single most important feature of airline travel.

    If I understand correctly, this trade magazine is fully immersed in PaxEX. It’s about bringing new ideas to the industry, and hopefully challenging the industry where needed.