What Will We Find On Passengers' Phones From Flight MH370?
 

  • February 22, 2018, 12:03:55 AM

Login with username, password and session length

Author Topic: What Will We Find On Passengers' Phones From Flight MH370?  (Read 3510 times)

IR1907

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Join Date: Apr 2015
  • Posts: 12
    • Observer
    • View Profile
What Will We Find On Passengers' Phones From Flight MH370?
« on: April 21, 2015, 02:25:16 PM »
Bearing in mind that CNN is the same network that suggested Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 might have flown into a black hole, it was nonetheless interesting to hear the network speculate that the mobile phones of the flight’s passengers might hold an archive of unsent emails, texts, photos, and videos of whatever sequence of events befell the doomed airliner — and that these fragile digital files could still be recovered.

As CNN phrases it, friends and families have been “left wondering if their loved ones tried to use their cell phones to send a message before the plane went missing.” Taken together, these unsent messages, locked now inside data cards at the bottom of the sea, “could provide crucial details about what happened to flight 370.”

This is obvious, of course: people on a troubled plane might have tried to use their cell phones. We don’t need CNN or Gizmodo to tell us this. But what’s intriguing about the idea of recovering those personal texts and photos is at least two-fold: one, the very fact that these messages could still be saved at all, despite the fact that the phones, laptops, and other devices have already spent weeks now submerged in saltwater, and, two, that these messages — assuming they do, in fact, exist — could thus offer us a constellation of narrative viewpoints on the disaster as it occurred. It is this latter aspect that I personally find so compelling, and I’ll come back to it in a second.

CNN goes on to interview a representative of 4Discovery, a mobile phone data forensics firm based in Chicago, and he is quick to agree that this material exists — probably — and that it would still be recoverable even after weeks or months underwater. A large part of this would come down to appropriate object handling, he explains — implying that forensic investigations are really a kind of museology of the disaster scene. This would include keeping the passengers’ phones and laptops fully submerged, even post-recovery, up until the very moment of data analysis. At that point, despite weeks underwater and regardless of other physical damage, “as long as the data cards are intact, the information is still there.”

Of course, no one will know for sure until the plane itself is actually found — at which point, its own black box will do quite a thorough job in helping to reveal what really occurred. Random and quite possibly incoherent unsent text messages, in other words, are just lacework: a filigree of additional clues, but by no means the real heart of the matter.

However, on a narrative level, there is something so intriguing about the idea that literally hundreds of witnesses could, in fact, have been documenting the events aboard the plane that night, producing fragmentary and, of course, highly subjective accounts of MH370’s surreal disappearance, but nonetheless recording the flight’s final hours from within.

The very possibility that this Roshomon-like collection of work exists adds intense psychological texture to a story that has, by now, become anything but personalised — unfolding, instead, as a kind of technical mystery, with misleading pings and underwater drones battling for headlines with long-distance aircraft and eagle-eyed satellites on the edge of space.

Like recovering the diaries of a lost ship’s crew in some Victorian novel of letters, MH370’s 21st-century mystery suddenly becomes almost unnervingly humanist, holding hundreds of untold stories, viewpoints, and interpretations, with notes, prayers, or frantic messages written, saved, yet never delivered until the right analytic equipment comes along to find them. [CNN]

Emma

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Join Date: Apr 2015
  • Posts: 9
    • Aviation Enthusiast
    • View Profile

TheHumanFactor

  • Administrator
  • Newbie
  • *****
  • Join Date: Feb 2015
  • Posts: 13
    • Human Performance Specialist
    • View Profile
Re: What Will We Find On Passengers' Phones From Flight MH370?
« Reply #2 on: April 21, 2015, 09:03:19 PM »
This is a very interesting point, especially as there may (or may not?) have been a video from the Germanwings incident. I certainly hope that whatever is on the devices is indeed recoverable and will provide some closure to the families as well as information on what if anything was observed from the cabin.

Thanks for linking the article Emma.

TomSlick

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Join Date: Jul 2015
  • Location: Buffalo NY
  • Posts: 1
    • Aviation Maintenance and Repair Specialist
    • View Profile
Re: What Will We Find On Passengers' Phones From Flight MH370?
« Reply #3 on: July 31, 2015, 09:29:54 PM »
I just joined this discussion..I have a hard time buying into some black hole..especially if this thing flew for hours...why were there no calls..were they all incapacitated?. Look at 911 and all the phone calls from the doomed planes..this one could take many years to find

Gotha229

  • Newbie
  • *
  • Join Date: Apr 2015
  • Location: NZ
  • Posts: 3
    • Aviation Enthusiast
    • View Profile
Re: What Will We Find On Passengers' Phones From Flight MH370?
« Reply #4 on: October 11, 2015, 08:30:49 PM »
Cellphones are requested to be turned off or in flight mode. Cellphones also need to be within range of a tower to communicate - obviously zero in the Southern Indian Ocean. At night time there are no visual references and human factors mean lack of or no sense of direction (Was to be over the China Sea so expectation is nothing below and nothing below over SIO). 30,000ft plus in the dark.

Nothing is fact unless a FDR is retrievable and readable but guesstimation is passenger cabin de-pressurised to inebriate passengers.

Regardless of either of the above issues in the rare case anyone was concious enough still to be able to try and send a message or take a selfie before the end that's what would be in phone memory if (big giant if) the phone survived the crash, and time in the deep pressurised temperature intolerant salt water.