back to article 20 Freescale staff on vanished Malaysia Airlines flight MH370

Chipmaker Freescale Semiconductor has issued a statement reporting that, tragically, 20 of its employees were aboard Malaysia Airlines flight MH370, which appears to have crashed into the South China Sea. At the time of writing, the jetliner, which was en route to Beijing from Kuala Lumpur carrying 239 passengers and crew, is …


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  1. Cliff

    How awful for their families

    They must be feeling dreadful, condolences to all.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Lafarge exec lost wife and kids

    Many expat workers were lost on the plane. Also because of the spring break, a Lafarge France exec lost his wife and 2 children in the crash.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sad for those who died but...

    many companies limit the maximun number of staff that can use the same flight to well under 10. For my company, it is 5 and for this very reason. That's it. Does not matter if the cost it higher to fly by another route or on another day, the five max limit is accepted. My group also has a rule that no two key people for any project can take the same flight. Single point of failure and all that...

    I'm flying to Bangalore tomorrow with a colleague. He's on a direct flight and I have the joy of changing planes in Doha.

    20+ years ago I worked for another company. One of the aircraft several important people were travelling in was lost over the Atlantic. The loss of these key people hurt us hard (in a business sense) for well over a year.

    1. Stoneshop

      Re: Sad for those who died but...

      many companies limit the maximun number of staff that can use the same flight to well under 10. For my company, it is 5 and for this very reason.

      At Digital, there definitely was a maximum of 5 (AFAICR) for the number of employees on any flight. Despite that, i remember flying to London for a training stint in Highfield with all but one of my newhire group (16), plus an instructor, in one plane. Apparently we weren't sufficiently valuable yet...

      1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge

        Re: Sad for those who died but...

        Ah Digital. I remember those travel rules very well. I spent over 20 years working for them..

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Sad for those who died but...

      While your point is valid (and no doubt the reason for the upvotes), the opportunity to make a point-scoring "my company's BC planning is better than theirs" comment is breath-taking (no doubt the reason for the downvotes).

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Sad for those who died but...

        What do you mean "point scoring" and why is it "breath taking" ?

        Perhaps the reg should remove the reference to how many of the same staff were on the plane and we just remember them and their loved ones equally.

      2. Stoneshop

        Re: Sad for those who died but...

        "my company's BC planning is better than theirs"

        The company I referred to doesn't exist anymore, so it was hardly "mine's better". However, I do wonder whether Freescale has such a restriction in place and it was waived/ignored (for whatever reason), that they don't (which I find hard to believe), or that it was set to 20 instead of the five or so that was common 25 years ago, in light of increasing flight safety statistics. And/or that maybe different numbers exist for different employee levels?

    3. BillG

      Re: Sad for those who died but...

      Some companies also have a limit on upper management that can be on the same plane, usually no more than three.

  4. Sanctimonious Prick


    So sad :(

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Sad Loss Of Life

    Deepest sympathies to their families.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Fake passports?

    Apparently "five passengers booked on the flight did not board and their luggage was consequently removed" and "it has also been confirmed that two passengers were travelling on stolen passports."

    While not evidence of foul play, it is suspicious.

    Condolences to all.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Fake passports?

      Not suspicious at all.

      No-shows are commonplace, even in the "checked in their luggage but never made it to the gate". Happens on every flight.

      Travelling on stolen / false papers is hardly uncommon either, despite what the anti-terrorist-we-take-away-your-bottled-water crew might have you think. Flying out from KL, I'd have been surprised if there weren't any.

  7. Wallyb132

    Very sad indeed...

    I feel for the families who lost loved ones in thus tragedy.

    This is precisely the reason I dont fly....

    1. James Hughes 1

      Re: Very sad indeed...

      Odd that you don't fly due to terrible but fortunately very rare circumstances such as this, when driving a car has a much higher chance of injury or death.

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: Very sad indeed...

        It probably "sounds" safer. One or two typically die in a car crash, maybe up to eight if two families head-on each other. It takes something spectacular (motorway pile up) to get higher numbers.

        One plane, run by god knows who on god knows what budget, counts for hundreds at a time. And if one of the biggies should ever go down...

        So, yeah, driving a car sounds better.

        1. James Hughes 1

          Re: Very sad indeed...

          It's a bit off topic, so please excuse given the subject matter, but relevant..

          "The odds of dying per mile are

          by car, 1 in 100,000

          by plane,1.6 in 100,000,000,000

          That is, the odds of dying in a car crash per mile driven are over 625,000 times higher than dying in an airplane crash per mile flown.

          The odds of dying per trip are

          by car, 1 in 10,000,000

          by plane, 1 in 720,000,000

          In other words, the odds of dying in a car crash per trip are only 72 times higher than in airplanes. "

          1. AndyS

            Re: Very sad indeed...

            "The odds of dying per mile are

            by car, 1 in 100,000"

            Going by your numbers, the average trip in a car is 16 metres, and the average driver dies after about 10 years on the road.

          2. despun

            Re: Very sad indeed...

            Odds per mile in a car 1:100,000.

            No way.

            An annual milage of 10,000 is normal-ish. You don't expect to die every 10 years.

            1. Brenda McViking

              Re: Very sad indeed...

              I too am very unsure of those statistics, but in an effort to remedy the situation, I've found some HSE stats on their website:

              For the entire UK population:

              Annual risk of death due to road accident: 1 in 16,800 in the UK in 1999

              Annualised risk of death due to aircraft accident per passenger journey 1 in 142,000,000 (1991-2000)

              So even if you take this to the ridiculous extreme of flying twice a day, every single day of the year, your chances of being an aircraft accident fatality are 1 in 195,000, or, to put it another way, you're still over 11 times more likely to die on your way to the airport.

              Not that statistics are any comfort to the families of the souls onboard MH-370 - our thoughts are with them at this terrible time.

          3. Steven Jones

            Re: Very sad indeed...

            @ James Hughes 1

            ""The odds of dying per mile are

            by car, 1 in 100,000

            by plane,1.6 in 100,000,000,000"

            Really? For car driving it's a chance of 1 in 100,000 per mile? I rather think not, as the average UK annual car mileage is about 12,000. In fact, the chance of being killed in a car is about 5 per billion miles (in the UK) as against 0.08 per billion miles in an airline. That's 60 times safer (per mile) by schedule airline, not 625,000 times safer.

            However, that isn't really comparing like-with-like. Nobody flies an airliner from their front door (well, unless your name is John Travolta). In practice, safety stats like this only make sense where they are genuine alternatives. If you take long distance car journeys on motorways, then the death rate per billion miles is reduced by a factor of 3 (in the UK). So that's more like 17:1 in favour of the air alternative. However, factor in the much higher fatality rate per journey of air over car (the stats I find show that), then they safety comparison of short-haul air versus long car journeys closes again. Indeed, you might well be safer travelling by coach on than short-haul plane flights.

      2. Wallyb132

        Re: Very sad indeed...

        Behind the wheel of a car, i'm at least somewhat in control of what happens around me, and if I take the proper safety precautions and pay attention to the others around me, I have a good chance of staying alive, even if my car develops problems while traveling.

        On an aircraft, they tell you to lean forward and put your head between your knees, the reason for that is so that you can kiss your ass goodbye when you hit the ground, or the water, depending on where you are when your aircraft goes down...

        1. bep

          Well, you think you do

          but you probably don't, if you are like the vast majority of drivers, as plenty of studies have shown. The more you drive, the more likely you are to become complacent. And you really can't do much about the person who has just had a heart attack in the car coming towards you.

  8. tiger99

    I suspect that having several passengers with stolen or fake passports on board is not at all uncommon, despite security checks, and may be completely unrelated to the tragedy. However, I would be more concerned about enemies of Freescale, or IBM, or any other corporation whose staff were aboard, or even some individual. There have been airliners crashed previously, with the loss, usually, of everyone on board, due to personal vendettas and such like. In at least one fairly recent case, the pilot had something against his employer and decided to commit suicide, killing all on board. I am not saying that this disaster is murder, suicide, or anything else, just that we should remember all the possibilities, of which there are many, including mechanical failure, crew error, terrorism, strike by a meteorite, and, as this is a fly by wire aircraft, lightning strike with a current beyond the design limits, plus many more causes that I can't be bothered to mention. The fact is that we don't know, and if wreckage is not found, and no-one such as a terrorist organisation claims responsibility, we probably never will know. I suggest that we wait patiently for the investigators to report, and not allocate blame speculatively to anyone, regardless of whether they may have been travelling illegally.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      The Freescale connection: was this an attack on Freescale's knowedge base?

      " I would be more concerned about enemies of Freescale..."

      I agree this is a serious concern and that the investigators must explore this possibility.

      I've been watching for new leads on the Freescale connection here. Freescale makes plenty of secure embedded devices for many applications and industries.

      Surely, this will lead to conspiracy theories but may also lead to legitimate avenues for investigation.

      Speculation 1: this was an attack on Freescale's knowledge base, to slow or prevent them from finishing research and development on the **next generation** of embedded devices that could act as broadly-distributed intelligence-gathering tools. Here, the "factoid" of the Iranian ticket purchase is an interesting bit to pursue. People will obviously speculate about Iran, or the FSB, or ...?

      Speculation 2: this was a way to prevent whistleblowing by a Freescale employee about hidden NSA backdoors or spyware into **current OR next-generation** devices (and perhaps offer cover at the same time, hence the alleged Iranian involved).

      So far, there are many possibilities and not enough facts to really say anything with any confidence, but perhaps that will change in the coming days or weeks.

      1. heyrick Silver badge

        Re: The Freescale connection: was this an attack on Freescale's knowedge base?

        Speculation - the problem I have with the speculation is in "removing" an entire aircraft (anybody found it yet?) and potentially killing/murdering (delete as application) over two hundred other people to stall a project or keep a secret a secret.

        Really, wouldn't it be better for the spooks of the world to snipe the person that is wanted silenced while they're in a hotel room. Clean, efficient, minor collateral, and it sends a pretty strong message to other people on the same team.

        So, no. I think hitting Freescale by removing an airplane from reality is bordering on the ludicrous.

  9. e^iπ+1=0

    Black Box

    Why do we still rely on the black box?

    I just came across an article to do with the loss of AF447 (Rio-Paris, 2009)

    'Why, in a satellite saturated, digitally streamed world, do airlines and aviation regulators rely on devices hatched in the middle of last century that can disappear into the deep or be damaged and destroyed.

    “It’s absurd that air safety depends on black boxes which sometimes cannot be recovered or if they are recovered then the data cannot be properly transcribed because the boxes are damaged beyond analysis.” JAMES HEALY-PRATT AVIATION LAWYER'

    Surely we have even fewer excuses today.

    Obviously we keep the black box too, just in case the copy in the cloud can't be found / has been tampered with.

    1. FlatSpot

      Re: Black Box

      Is the problem that it doesnt fit with the 24/7 news agenda or that its not a reliable, tried and tested solution?

      Posts above give an indication of the very small likelihood of a plane crash so how many haven't been solved due to a pulverised black box?

    2. JimmyPage Silver badge

      Re: Why do we still rely on the black box?

      From what I have heard, there was no communication from the crew suggesting anything untoward before the loss of contact.

      Given it can take a while for an airliner to drop out of the sky, why was there no distress call from the crew ?

      In this case the only hope of finding out is the black box.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Why do we still rely on the black box?

        >Given it can take a while for an airliner to drop out of the sky, why was there no distress call from the crew ?

        One of the first things you are taught when you learn to fly, and is incessantly beaten into students thick skulls throughout training is :


        Always, always, always, always, always, always, always, always, always, in that order ! It does not matter if you're solo flying a single engine prop aircraft, or if you're two-up on the pointy end of a jet.

        There is no point distracting yourself with communications (to those onboard, or those on the ground) if you've no idea where you are or if you're unable to control the aircraft.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Black Box

      >> Surely we have even fewer excuses today.

      I thought people on theRegister were meant to have some sort of technical background ?

      (a) Satellite bandwidth is not cheap ... if you've got a fleet of 100+ aircraft, costs soon add up

      (b) Cost of storing and analysing all that data

      (c) What happens if you loose data along the way due to packet loss etc.

      Just like the reason we still use tapes for backups .... blackboxes are robust, tried, tested, proven and cheaper than any alternative !

      1. Steven Jones

        Re: Black Box

        Whilst the cost of uploading flight recorder information to satellite is certainly a factor, the technology is not. There exist a number of proven ways to provide robust data transfer over unreliable data links and, in any event, none of this would preclude the use of local storage on the data logger.

        In fact the subject of real-time upload of flight recorder information has been around for many years. It's just a matter of the authorities mandating its use. Looking around, the cost of satellite data transmission is of the order of several dollars per GB, albeit I've no doubt it depends on the nature of the services. Flight data recorders seem to have capacities measured in the several GB region, so it seems to me to be perfectly practicable.

        The archive storage of such data is hardly a major cost issue. Such data can be discarded as soon as it's no longer relevant, although I rather think that summarised extracts of safety-related information would be useful. Also, it has been the practice to archive some flight data recorder and airline engine operating information for operational analysis to optimise such things as engine reliability and fuel economy.

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