IFE on MH370 could have shown change of course


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.