View Full Version : Forensic Potential of Pax SD Recordings

7th Apr 2015, 21:49
I wonder how passenger use of cell phones and laptops may provide a new source of forensic information to accident investigators. MicroSD cards and USB sticks in particular are very hardy devices. I've had occasion to destroy these devices when they contained expired key information - and you need to really hack at them with wire cutters to get at the chip itself and break it.

Here is a link to a article inspired by the Germanwing's crash - but reflective of MH370. It's what started me wondering - at least enough to start this post.
PED chips more vital in MH370 mystery than Germanwings crash | Plane Talking (http://blogs.crikey.com.au/planetalking/2015/04/06/ped-chips-more-vital-in-mh370-mystery-than-in-germanwings-crash/)

As I said, the chip itself is pretty resilient to accidental destruction - at least to the point of making the data irrecoverable. The tiny chip is light and harder than the material around it, so tossing it against a rock wall at a few hundred MPH is no guarantee that it would crack.

However it could be readily destroyed by heat or chemistry.

So what about a situation such as MH370? If pax recordings were made, they would have been made during the forensically most-interesting part of the flight, towards the beginning of the incident - during the period that would have been recorded over on the VDR. I've taken the physiological training offered to pilots by the USAF. Even explosive decompression is not immediately incapacitating. Most healthy people would have plenty of time to don their mask before loosing useful consciousness. And -50F is remarkably tolerable when the air is so thin. With masks hanging down and cabin fogged a bit, many passengers would consider it an excellent photo op.

But MH370 is expected to be sitting in sea water and that is certainly bad for metals - such as the leads connecting the chip to the outside world. So I did some web searching for anyone with a chemically-similar experience...
Here's what "seasea" had to say on a scuba blog (http://www.scubaboard.com/forums/archive/index.php/t-389627.html): Just want to share my experience here as well. My camera bag got wet while on a scuba diving trip. The camera (Sony Nex 5N) and SD card (32GB San Disk) got soaked. Based on past experience, I left them in rice to soak up the humidity for several days. Then I cleaned the contacts of the SD card. I looked online and tried software recovery such as ZAR and Rescue Pro. But nothing worked. I was desperate. I didn't want to loose my precious memories like this.

Thus, I looked for recovery services. Based on the positive reviews, I chose Recoverfab, fix repair CF SD SDHC memory card/flash drive-format error software (fix repair CF SD SDHC memory card/flash drive-format error software (http://recoverfab.com)). I was a little skeptical sending my SD card in, all the way to Germany. But when I saw 466 of my photos and 18 videos. I relaxed. i recommend giving them a try if you are at a wit's end like me. Worth the price.
There are dozens of stories about cameras recovered with their photos intact - but most of them are from water-proof cameras and even the camera was intact. But here is a news story (http://news.yahoo.com/blogs/technology-blog/camera-lost-sea-returned-help-social-networking-174129626.html) about a camera that was lost at sea for 1 year with no protection form the sea water - and the photos survived.Just how tough is your average DSLR memory card? Apparently tough enough to survive a year at the bottom of the ocean. Naturalist and aspiring photographer Markus Thompson was scuba diving in Deep Bay near Vancouver, British Columbia, when he found a Canon EOS 1000D. Curious, he brought it to the surface and took out the SD card, and was actually able to recover about 50 photos.

BTW: I was uncertain about where to put this post.

There are already two closed MH370 threads and I didn't think this post was meaty enough to open a third. Although if you read the first article I linked to (http://blogs.crikey.com.au/planetalking/2015/04/06/ped-chips-more-vital-in-mh370-mystery-than-in-germanwings-crash/), the Indian Ocean search has apparently found something to look at more closely - but probably just an area of siltation.
Since this is likely to be a news-driven topic, I decided to place it in "Rumours & News".