Following the apparent ‘vanishing act’ of Malaysian Airlines flight MH370, many investigators and researchers began to question the likelihood of such an event happening in today’s high-tech world. At 21WIRE, we’ve also looked into the unprecedented disappearance of MH370 and the subsequent downing of MH17, as certain details have come to light regarding the history of the autopilot function within Boeing commercial airliners, seemingly opening the door to the events of 9/11…
The Boeing 777 along with other Boeing models, can in fact be flown remotely through the use of independent embedded software and satellite communication. Once this advanced system is engaged, it can disallow any pilot or potential hijacker from controlling a plane, as the rooted setup uses digital signals that communicate with air traffic control, satellite links, as well as other government entities for the remainder of a flight’s journey.
This technology is known as the Boeing Honeywell ‘Uninterruptible’ Autopilot System.
The mere existence of this technology would most certainly provide the final piece to a number of seemingly unsolved airline disaster puzzles in recent years…
IMAGE: ‘A jet for the 21st century’ – An interior view of a Boeing 777-200 ER cockpit (Photo becuo.com).
In the case of MH370, the aircraft’s Rolls Royce Trent 892 Engines sent ‘automated pings’ independent of the plane’s transponder, to a British Inmarsat satellite for several hours after subsequently losing contact with air traffic controllers. The automated information gave an up-to-date diagnosis as to the well being of the two engines, which according to data received, were fully operational and showed no signs of electrical damage. Rolls Royce has a partnership that requires the engine to transmit live data to its global engine health monitoring center in Derby, UK, every 30 minutes. Investigators are said to have used the ACARS information uploaded to the engine maker.
Uninterruptible flight control
On December 4th of 2006, it was announced that Boeing had won a patent on an uninterruptible autopilot system for use in commercial aircraft. This was the first public acknowledgment by Boeing about the existence of such an autopilot system.
The new autopilot patent was reported by John Croft for Flight Global, with the news piece subsequently linked by a Homeland Security News Wire and other British publications around the same time. According to the DHS release, it was disclosed that “dedicated electrical circuits” within an onboard flight system could control a plane without the need of pilots, stating that the advanced avionics would fly the aircraft remotely, independently of those operating the plane:
“The “uninterruptible” autopilot would be activated – either by pilots, by onboard sensors, or even remotely via radio or satellite links by government agencies like the Central Intelligence Agency, if terrorists attempt to gain control of a flight deck.”
The Flight Global news wire goes on to report that the uninterruptible autopilot system was designed for increased security in the event of a manual hijacking situation, as Boeing itself describes the feature as a preventative measure, keeping unauthorized persons out of a cockpit, setting the stage for an industry wide safety protocol:
“There is a need in the industry for a technique that conclusively prevents unauthorised persons for gaining access to the controls of the vehicle and therefore threatening the safety of the passengers onboard the vehicle, and/or other people in the path of travel of the vehicle, thereby decreasing the amount of destruction individuals onboard the vehicle would be capable of causing.”
Additionally, in the article entitled, “Diagrams: Boeing patents anti-terrorism auto-land system for hijacked airliners,” Croft outlines the clandestine oversight that government has with respect to the uninterruptible autopilot, making note of the auto-land function of the system and stating that the technology has its own power supply self-sufficient of the the aircraft:
“To make it fully independent, the system has its own power supply, independent of the aircraft’s circuit breakers. The aircraft remains in automatic mode until after landing, when mechanics or government security operatives are called in to disengage the system.”
IMAGE: The United States patent for the Boeing Honeywell Uninterruptible Autopilot dated November, 28th 2006 (Photo flightglobal.com).
Boeing and Honeywell have been heavily involved in UAV technology for both civilian and military applications. Some researchers have suggested that both corporations could ‘recoup’ the cost of their applied science technology for military development from the commercial sector. It has also been said that Boeing and Honeywell developed existing patents for the Department of Defense for over 40 years including the BHAUP system.