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vendredi 14 novembre 2014

Blog Comparing radar images - MH17 (eng)

Comparing radar images - MH17

It is very difficult to really understand the situation as it is still highly confusing, with lots of info circulating around. Nevertheless there are some anomalies in the way that the radar display images were presented.

 Background info

This is a screenshot of the Air Traffic Flow Management, (ATFM) computer system in the Rostov-on-Don region, Russia.  It is dated 17 Jul 2014 at 13:20Z. This is a civil radar system that will only show civil flight info and only military fights with activated transponders.  In Europe, it should be a Model S derived ATFM system, integrating both a Primary Surveillance Radar, PSR & the Secondary Surveillance Radar, SSR.

The SSR interrogates aircraft who have a transponder that 'talks back' to it, hence the info boxes on the screen shots.  An ATFM system 'couples' or joins up the info on aircraft, using both the SSR & PSR data.  Additionally there is the  Automatic Dependant Surveillance – Broadcast, (ADS-B), all of which is also integrated in the ATFM system.
  • The box contains flight info, Sqawk code, FL altitude, heading, ordered altitude known as Cleared Flight Level, (CFL) &  ground speed of the aircraft;
  • The solid line that projects out to nowhere is the current heading track of an aircraft;
  • The dot is the aircraft 'painted' by the radar; ( it lingers on the screen - 'coasts');
  • The circle around the dot, linked to an info box is the coupling of the SSR & PSR;
  • A "velocity vector"  indicates where the aircraft will be in aprox 2 mins timeframe, based on a projected flight trajectory,
  • The trail of dots shows the last few reported positions of an aircraft.
  • White lines inside Russian airspace - airways.

 About 100 km East of  MH17 is Russian airspace &  air corridors / traffic:

  • From North to South from KANON, ( КАНОН)
  • then there is MIMRA, МИМРА to ABLOG, АБЛО

According to ATC logs, "0143 F329" for MH17 was apparently heading towards RND, Rostov, and not to TAMAK, as it would be logical if it was taking airway L980.   On the Russian display, MH 17 is heading to TAMAK, to join the next airway, at FL350 called A 87.  This airway was only open to flights above FL350, due to the danger posed by the fighting in Ukraine & in the border area!

Back to the display

The indicated arrow is  showing  MH17 prior to the crash:
The B777 was maintaining FL330 as per ATC orders; (actual altitude is 32900 ft as you can see it on the left side of the arrow.)All on screen info in Russian Cyrillic

There are several aircraft inbound inside Ukrainian airspace heading towards Russian airspace, the relevant ones visible on screen are:

a. MH17  - (SQUAWK 0143 at FL330)

b. SQ351 - Singapore Air 777 (SQUAWK 4722 at FL350) following behind it. 

C. In the opposite direction is  sq 3416 AI143 - Air India 787 at FL400

The last observed position of the MH17 according the radar display is
  Lat: N48.0650 Lon:E038.3233 at the time 13:20:12

The animated display shows the 'suspicious echo' as a "primary target", circled in Red at the Russian MOD briefing. It first appears at 13:20:47UTC. This echo is north of where the MH17 "secondary target" was 10-15 seconds earlier & about  2-3 kilometers apart.

The screen shots & the video subsequently show a CIRCLE but significantly no code, (replaced by XXXX). The Transponder for MH17 has stopped operating due to total on-board electrical failure.  Hence no more transponder info on the radar  screen images + MH17 losing speed as well.  There is still a 'echo', an indication of the PSR data/paint.

The SSR also has a "safety system" to alert Air Traffic Controllers of a change in a situation. Since aircraft file Flight Plans &  have ADS-B, the anticipated flight trajectory is registered on the system.  So when there is a loss of a radar echo, an square box, replacing the circle, appears on the display showing the theoretical position of an aircraft. Furthermore, the aircraft might be still 'seen' on the radar display for a brief period of time, even if it is not physically there.  Most radar displays have this feature, where the echo 'coasts', to the operator time to take action & note the last position.The MH 17 flight radar  'paint/dot' can be seen to 'uncouple' in the video.  Firstly there is no longer a radar echo, so the circle changes into a square box, based on MH 17 data.  Likewise, if there had been a SU-25 in the vicinity, this too would have a circle, but no info box, as the PSR would have painted it as well. Yet, part of this information was omitted from the Russian Ministry of Defence briefing.

 Squawk Codes of aircraft in area

0143 was MH 17
4722 was SQ351 - Singapore Air 777

1447 was BR88 - EVA Air 777
1466 was J274- Azerbaijan A320
1343 was 9W118 -Jet Airways 777 (it's overlapped on the left)
3416 was AI143 - Air India 787 at FL400
2446 was S71024 - S7 A320
AFL1124 near the middle on top of AFL1104 A330/737
MOV355 A VIM A319
5154  LH762 -Lufthansa A340

Notes: Since this is a Russian system, not all aircraft have a FPL, as they are in Ukrainian airspace, but some do! The Russian radar seem to have an floor for their 'ARTCC' radar of 5 kilometers. So no echos will be displayed under that height.


According to RT, the dark blue speckled dots are "alleged military plane or planes are represented by blue spots tagged 'T".   No, it isn't,  an aircraft would present a solid uniform 'echo'.   Please note the time on this screen shot as 2014  07 17 - 13:40:55.  This is 20 minutes after the first Russian radar image!  In all likelihood, this shows debris from MH17 floating down.

Light blue dots, historical flight paths, (ADB-S system interrogation)? Although if this is the case, it is missing the Air India flight & possibly the Singapore Airlines flight too.  Purple track maybe actual flight path of MH17.

Grey lines are flight corridors. GONAD, PETRA, TAMAK & TIKNA are "navigational waypoints", so DON is Donetsk.

 ATC records & logs

The preliminary Dutch investigation reports indicates that  "the cockpit voice recorder, the flight data recorder and data from air traffic control all suggest that flight MH17 proceeded as normal until 13:20:03 (UTC), after which it ended abruptly".

At 12:22: 05, the Ukrainian ATC is calling his Rostov counterpart, who states:
"No its seems that its target started  falling part ".

Notice that MH17 which had altered course away  from airway L980 & then was told to go to RND, (Rostov), as also indicated in the Russian briefing session, but not actually reflected in the radar display screen shots & video. 

MH17 planned Flight path  on L980
Compare the below transcript with the airways above.

 ATC transcript

According to the map released by the DSB the last FDR position was at position "N48.123 E38.522".

p14 Dutch report:

"The data obtained was the following:
- Primary surveillance radar recorded by the Russian surveillance aids
- Secondary surveillance radar (SSR / Mode S) 6
- Automatic Dependant Surveillance – Broadcast (ADS-B) 7 ground based reception."

 The MH 17 crew had requested to fly 20nm (37km) to the left of airway L980 about 20min before the loss of the aircraft.

Video of Russian Ministry of Defence Briefing on MH17

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