The quest to uncover the truth behind the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 has been marked by numerous twists and turns. One of the latest developments in this ongoing saga revolves around a paper titled “WSPR Azimuth Error.” This paper raises questions about the accuracy of tracking data related to MH370. However, MH370 tracking expert Richard Godfrey has stepped forward to provide a comprehensive response, effectively debunking the claims made in the paper. His insights shed further light on the intricacies of tracking and the challenges involved in pinpointing the location of the missing aircraft.
At the heart of Godfrey’s response lies a detailed analysis of the tracking methodology employed in the search for MH370. He begins by explaining the fundamental concept of an anomalous position indicator, which is defined by the GDTAAA software and relies on data from at least two transmitter-receiver pairs. These pairs create lines that intersect at the aircraft’s supposed position. However, Godfrey underscores a critical point: for an anomaly to be detected, these transmitter-receiver pairs must align precisely. If they do not, the anomaly cannot exist.
Anomalies, in this context, manifest as deviations in the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) or frequency drift, and they must significantly exceed one standard deviation from the mean SNR over a ±3 hour period around the test datum. In essence, any detected anomaly must be statistically significant to be considered valid.
To fully comprehend this tracking method, it is essential to grasp the role of High-Frequency (HF) radio transmissions and their propagation. These transmissions follow a unique path, relying on refraction in the ionosphere. The propagation of an HF radio wave is often depicted as a great circle path but projected onto the Earth’s surface. Crucially, if the aircraft does not sit precisely on the propagation path between the transmitter and receiver, it will disrupt the radio wave, neither through forward nor backscattering.
Godfrey further substantiates his response by referencing a previous paper co-authored by him and Dr. Hannes Coetzee. This earlier work provides in-depth insights into the phenomenon of HF radio wave propagation, offering a detailed explanation of why an aircraft must align with the propagation path to affect the radio wave.
However, the complexity of tracking does not end there. Godfrey points out that the network of WSPRnet links comprises a vast web of data. Each day, there are over 3 million WSPRnet links in operation. While many of these links provide accurate and complete location data, some do not. Radio amateurs, who contribute to this network, occasionally provide incomplete or incorrect location information for security reasons. Moreover, some transmitters are not land-based; they can be mobile in vehicles, located on ships, or even carried by balloons.
To address these challenges and maintain data accuracy, an extensive file containing corrections for WSPRnet station locations has been shared with organizations and academic institutions engaged in research related to WSPR technology. This comprehensive file includes both current and historical corrections, ensuring that discrepancies in location data are diligently addressed.
One key aspect that adds a layer of reliability to the tracking process is the requirement that every transmitter must be registered in the country where it is located. This registration includes precise location details. These details are cross-checked with information available in amateur radio databases such as WSPRnet, QRZ.com, or QRZCQ.com. Discrepancies between sources are methodically clarified. Furthermore, many radio amateurs maintain websites where they publish detailed information about their antenna locations, contributing to the overall accuracy of the network.
In summary, Godfrey concludes that WSPRnet transmissions, traveling at the speed of light around the globe, are generally quite accurate. Only transmissions that directly intersect with the target aircraft’s position can be potentially disturbed by it. Furthermore, the tracking system has defined limits and takes into account anomalies exceeding one standard deviation, imposing constraints on the estimated position of the target aircraft every two minutes.
The search for Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370 continues to be a complex and challenging endeavor. However, Richard Godfrey’s expertise and comprehensive response serve as a valuable guide through the intricate world of tracking and data analysis. By addressing the claims raised in the paper “WSPR Azimuth Error,” he provides clarity and perspective, helping to navigate the path toward uncovering the truth about MH370’s disappearance.
As the search for answers persists, Godfrey’s insights remind us of the complexities involved in tracking an aircraft’s journey and emphasize the importance of rigorous analysis and data accuracy in solving this enduring mystery. While the mystery of MH370 may be far from resolved, each response and insight brings us one step closer to understanding the events of that fateful day.