Communications:ACARS Traffic Log for MH370 (9M-MRO)/Data Conversion

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ACARS Traffic Log for MH370 (9M-MRO) - Data Conversion

Data Source

The ACARS Traffic Log for MH370 (9M-MRO) is a report produced by Malaysia Airlines' service provider for ACARS, a company called SITA.

The report is the output of a search From 2014-03-07 12:50:00 to 2014-03-08 2:00:01 filtered by Aircraft registration [MRO] and ordered chronologically - oldest message first. From the document properties we can see that software called Crystal Reports was used, and the output is in Portable Document Format (.pdf).

The pdf document is searchable and the text is easily extracted.


Data Formatting

In the process of extracting text[1] from a pdf document the original formatting is generally lost. To compensate for that, a Mediawiki template was created to replicate the original format, and text was imported with minimal changes. See below for details.

  1. Message Headers
    In the template designed for this data the message header layout was deliberately changed to make it easier to read. To justify this, please note that report headings such as Time, Trans, Direction etc would not be in the actual message. Message headers contain data in fields which reporting software such as Crystal Reports will format under a Report Header which has been defined for the Report type. In the SITA reports the column headings are on two rows and the data is on the next two rows. It is more readable if the heading is directly above the data to which it refers.

  2. Text Character Changes
    • The | character has been replaced by I. The | character is usually located on a US keyboard with the backslash character \. It is a vertical line with a gap in the centre. The | character is called a 'pipe' by programmers and unfortunately when used in Mediawiki the software or a template can expect it to be followed by a variable and produces unwanted results. The solution was to use an upper-case i, the I character. The outcome is insignificant because the | character was only used in set of messages from Malaysia Airlines to MH370 from 18:03:23 UTC (02:03:23 MYT) which were never received.

    • In the process of conversion some 'special characters', such as a small square, may not have been captured. The result is also not significant.
  3. Character Spacing
    The layout of tabular data such as the Position Report at 17:07:29 (UTC) has to be recreated manually and the end result may be slightly different from the original Report. Similarly, line spacing has to be added to replicate the look of messages such as the Load Sheet at 16:06:14 (UTC). Over time the format of these messages may be improved.


Message Sequence

The original SITA report sorted the ACARS messages by time (chronologically), from the oldest first to most recent.

However, there are a number of occasions when messages that are related to the same transmission are mixed with unrelated messages due perhaps to delays in transmission or processing. To make the Log more readable, messages related to the same transmission have been grouped together, based on a number in the Trans field in the header. Within that grouping, each message set retains a chronological sequence. A horizontal line has been used to separate message sets. Reading down the page it may therefore seem that messages in the Log are out of time sequence. But if you look at the value under the Trans heading it will become clear that related messages (with the same Trans number) are still in sequence.


Disclaimer

Although every effort has been made to preserve the integrity of the message data, if the content is being used for Research, Legal, or other significant purposes you should obtain a copy of the original pdf report from the Ministry of Transport (Malaysia). A link is provided on this page: ACARS Traffic Log/Background.


Acknowledgement

As the report ACARS Traffic Log for MH370 (9M-MRO) dated 2018-09-07 is © SITA the rights of SITA is acknowledged.

The data has been imported into this website for the purpose of research, to collate with other data into a comprehensive Timeline of events for MH370, and in line with the theme of this website - to 'Decode MH370' - has been presented with explanatory notes, contextual explanations through use of Tooltips, and cross-references.


Note:

The above changes also apply to ACARS message data extracted from Appendix 1.9A ACARS Traffic Log which accompanied the Safety Investigation Report (2018).


  1. Text was extracted from the original .pdf document using Foxit Reader, a free pdf reader from Foxit Software www.foxitsoftware.com
    The text was then copied into Microsoft Expression Web 4.0 - a free (but outdated) html editor from Microsoft - and formatted with basic html tags.
    The formatted text was then copied into MediaWiki and presented in the current layout using a template.