Proof Number Three:
Example Two: The FDR contains evidence supportive of missile attack.
Basic Presumptions: 1) That a supersonic shock wave or the shock wave of a missile exploding nearby to an aircraft will have an effect on instrumentation which is sensitive to air pressure, air flow, or otherwise delicately sensitive to movement; 2) That the FDR will record such variations according to its prime function until point of failure; 3) That any indication in the FDR data supportive of missile fire should be sufficient to warrant suspicion that missile fire took place.
As preface, there are multiple schools of thought as to exactly what kind of missile attack took place. One contends that a single test-fired dummy missile without a warhead passed through the aircraft. Another contends an exploding warhead using a proximity detonation exploded very near the plane low and forward of the wings. Another feels that both are likely, the exploding warhead missile likely fired in an attempt to intercept the errant missile before it could strike Flight 800, but simply fired too late, the interception point being somewhat coincidental in time and space.
The key FDR data can be somewhat problematic because there are so many information sets to address, and because it is difficult to explain some material with suitable briefness. This review will be the first to recognize that some of the indicators do not necessarily appear to support missile fire. Indeed, some of the readings are simply bizarre, and may have resulted from unexpected effects simply not yet understood, or, they may be trying to tell us something else about what happened. Only a complete, open, and honest investigation will have hope of final resolution of all matters, and like many things in air crash investigations, some things may never be fully explained.
Some may wish to follow the lead of NTSB and disallow the data at issue by claiming the FDR was receiving faulty data. Yet there are several indications within the data itself which show the FDR is collecting good data, more than those covered elsewhere within this review. Any corrective reading, and there are many instances of this, indicate proper operation of the system, and good data. The issue is, if the data is good, then its relevance is very important to understanding what happened. What follows is a simplified review of FDR information in an attempt to show FDR does support missile fire.
Further, it is important to consider anything which follows -- the 'old data' NTSB ignores. Where the 'old data' matches either pre-event Flight 800 data or corresponding event-altered data, then we MUST reconsider two possible conclusions: 1) That the "old data" is actually Flight 800 data after all; 2) That the FDR data is GOOD data which is telling us what happened.
This, of course, is an impossible drop in under 1 second. If this is old data, the old airplane could be crashing.Altitude dropped from 13772 (and climbing) to 10127
Clue: Engineers agree that both a supersonic shock wave and the explosion of a nearby missile will produce a shock wave which would increase atmospheric pressure upon altitude sensors (external of the aircraft) based upon barometric pressure. Commander Donaldson's group explains that it only takes 1.32 PSI of overpressure to cause an indicated drop of this magnitude. If a precise warhead's explosive performance was known, the distance from the sensor at detonation could be determined based on the indicated altitude drop, because blast wave overpressures fall off at the square of the distance. What is troubling is that the altitude reading never recovers, perhaps because of failure or blast-force damage to the sensor, such as a bending or flattening of the sensor tube's opening. An explosion in the CWS would be too small a shock wave to produce this result, as its overpressures would be less than required by a magnitude of 10 times, according to Donaldson.
The 'Old Data' would suggest the airplane involved was in a dive straight down. This, too, cannot be, and refutes the notion it is old data at all (when and where did THAT plane crash?). It also suggests damage to the external sensor which sends this signal -- an even consistent with missile theory, but inconsistent with CWT failure.
This, too, is an impossible change in one second. If there is old data, both planes are remarkably similar in performance.Airspeed dropped from 298 k (was mildly accelerating) to 100 k
Clue: The answer is much the same as for altitude. The airspeed sensor is also dependent upon outside airflow for its readings. For much the same reasoning, it is very likely that a shock wave would cause a drop in IAS. Likewise, a CWS explosion is claimed to be too little to account for this reading. Unlike altitude, the reading recovers in the 'old data', indicating the FDR is working properly, and the reading valid and telling.
This is an emergency level change. If there is old data, it is identical in performance to the Flight 800 corrected data, a remarkable happenstance.Pitch changed from a nominal 3.6/4.0 deg. to 8.9 deg.
Clue: Any upward blow amid ships by either a missile or a blast or just ahead of the wings would cause a minor pitch change, in this case 4.7 degrees. As the aircraft settled from the blow, loss of aerodynamics and an increase in drag due to airframe damage would cause a subsequent drop. A CWS blast which vents forward into the cargo bay as claimed by NTSB would not likely cause this reading. The corrections indicate the FDR is working properly, the reading valid and telling.
This is an emergency level change. If there is old data, it is identical in performance to the Flight 800 corrected data, a remarkable happenstance.Elevator Position Right went from a nominal .01/.04 deg. to 11.20 deg.
Clue: A lateral blow by a supersonic missile strike from the left should cause a reactionary shift of rudder as indicated, one self corrective by means of air-flow influence and flexing in absence of direct pilot instructions to any change. The correction should not be complete, however, as the aircraft should be deflected slightly off course. Donaldson simply thinks the shock wave caused minor movement of the Pilot's yoke assembly. A centrally located CWS explosion should have no effect on Rudder. The corrections AND 'old data' indicate the FDR is working properly, the reading valid and telling.
This is an impossible 'spin' for an aircraft to undertake in one second's time. If this is old data, the old plane is crashing.Magnetic Heading went from 82 deg. steady to 163 deg.
Clue: All agree a shock wave of impact or explosion can cause a delicate gyroscope-based compass system to fluctuate wildly, and it should be self corrective. The instrument may have subsequently failed or the signal line may have been severed. Not enough is known about this system design to make a complete determination of effects, but most agree this is a likely symptom. It is not known if a CWS blast would be capable of duplicating this effect.
An impossible 'banking maneuver' for an aircraft to make in one second's time. If there is old data, it is remarkably identical to Flight 800's corrected readings.Roll Angle went from a nominal 0.0/1.0 deg. (level flight) to 144.0 deg.
Clue: As above. The gyroscope, mounted on the wingtip, would likely experience sudden torque-forces. A gyroscope tends to rotate at right angels to force applied. It is not considered likely that a CWS blast would be capable of duplicating this effect. The corrections indicate the FDR is working properly, the reading valid and telling.
These are emergency level readings. If there is old data, it is remarkably identical to Flight 800's corrected readings.Rudder Position Upper went from nominal .63/.72 deg. to 77.76 deg.
Clue: As with rudder right shift, a blow from the bottom of the aircraft should cause an appropriate reactive rudder upper shift in the opposite direction, and correction. It is not known if a CWS blast would be capable of duplicating this effect. The corrections indicate the FDR is working properly, the reading valid and telling.
This is an impossible actual flight maneuver in less than one second. If there is old data, it is remarkably identical to Flight 800's corrected readings.Angle of Attack went from steady 3 deg. to 106 deg.
Clue: The angle of attack is a vane which rides in the air stream. A shock wave which either directly impacts the vane or deflects the air stream would cause a fluctuation, corrected as the air stream returns to normal. A CWS failure shock wave originating at the bottom of the aircraft would not reach the vane, which is apparently mounted on the left wing. The corrections indicate the FDR is working properly, the reading valid and telling, and tying 800 well into 'old data'.
'Old data' for all engines continues steady at higher-than-normal readings except for Engine #1Engine Power Rating ratios:
At this time, there is no consensus as to how a shock wave might or might not account for these readings, which like altitude and airspeed, are dependent upon air pressure readings. However, these readings are within the engines themselves, subject only to airflow through the engines. There are theories based on disruption of airflow to the engines, but this would not explain steady readings after the impact -- the most problematic readings in the 'old data'. There are theories that the throttle was knocked askew or changed by pilot action at that instant, but the performance of the engines could not produce an instantaneous response indicated. CWS failure also fails to account for these readings.
Note: Most all experts agree that if a missile explosion or shock wave were to somehow effect these readings, the relative position of the engine on the aircraft would determine its susceptibility to change and the amplitude thereof. If a blast were undernh the right-side fuselage and barely forward of engine number 3, for instance, number three might receive less impact than numbers 4 and 2, which would have more sympathetic angles of attack (more receptive) to shock waves. Engine #1, furthest away, would suffer the least change as it would be least susceptible.
Casual discussion with aircraft mechanics ~ suggest that since fuel is stored in wing tanks, any overpressure against the wing's surfaces would likely increase the internal tank pressure which, in turn, should slightly increase fuel flow rates and thus, engine performances should rise as shown here, except for the engine furthest away from the point of overpressure. The problem with engine #1 is that it drops in performance rather than remaining constant or (as the others did) increasing. This suggests some fuel starvation or other external forces were involved, such as a damaged/crimped fuel line or metal-distortion-caused effect on the throttle control system.
These are very telling readings. If there is old data, it is remarkably identical to Flight 800's corrected readings.Longitudinal Acceleration went from 0.10 g
Note two consistent readings which suggests validity of the data. A missile strike obliquely in the forward direction from the bottom of the aircraft while in climb should produce some momentary increase in forward acceleration, followed by a 'coasting' period where the aircraft slows back to powered speed, and perhaps slower due to increased drag from airframe damage. This effect would dramatically increase as pieces began to rip off the aircraft.
These are also important readings. If there is old data, it is remarkably identical to Flight 800's corrected readings.Vertical Acceleration went from a nominal 0.89/0.92 g
Clue: Again note two identical successive readings as well as continuance of 'old data' in agreement with corrections. This is perhaps the best single indicator the FDR is working properly, and that we need to pay attention to the readings. This may also be one of the more important readings of the entire set for determining event sequences. We might think that just like Longitudinal Acceleration, impact by a missile or blast shock wave should send this reading high, at first, and then see it settle down. This seems the opposite effect, here. It is the only reading outside of engine performance which might be claimed as contrary to supporting missile fire, but this is not actually the case. The unexpected results lead to new insight.
The sensor for this is located on the fuselage well aft of the wings. If the nose is suddenly pitched upwards due to explosive or impact force, rather than being 'flown' upwards, the rear of the aircraft should experience a kind of equal-but-opposite reaction as the airframe effectively pivots about the wings, which provide the primary anchor/lift point in the air stream. This accounts for the negative g change. A CWS failure venting forward into the cargo bay would not likely account for this change. But the reading then indicates a final increase in g's even beyond the original, and this is perhaps more telling.
If a missile penetrated the aircraft in a way that caused the airframe to destruct and fracture along the skin circumferentially, the nose would tend to buckle downward under the weight upon a ruptured keel. The lift provided by the wings would pull upward on the body and against the sagging nose, and the aircraft would try to climb faster than before. This reading looks like the very start of that process. The nose immediately droops and begins to stress the airframe, and we are looking at the readings which are showing signs of the structural decay of the fuselage which leads to the nose falling completely away.
Summary: It seems clearly a mistake for NTSB to throw out these readings. Of course, they are literally self-excused to so do so by being blessed/instructed by FBI or other powers to IGNORE missile scenarios. However, the readings paint a clear picture of what happened to the craft -- exactly what the FDR is supposed to do. They are supportive of missile fire.