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Posted by booNyzarC , in 911 Conspiracy Theories 23 December 2011 · 1,899 views

Return to Sender

DEBUNKED ACARS CONFIRMED - 9/11 AIRCRAFT AIRBORNE LONG AFTER CRASH DEBUNKED



Preamble:

You can save yourself a lot of time and reading by reviewing this PDF1 which was recently shared by Warren Stutt.  This PDF is a more detailed printout of the ACARS messaging with the 911 aircraft than has been previously released, but only includes the messages related to three of the four flights from 911; American Airlines Flight 11, American Airlines Flight 77, and United Airlines Flight 93.  The most significant information which can be gleaned from this document is that none of the mentioned flights received any uplinks after their reported crash times.  There are three key types of message entries included in the PDF; Uplink Messages (ULMSGs) which were received by the DSP from the airlines, Uplink Blocks (ULBLKs) which were ULMSGs formatted by the DSP for uplink to the aircraft and transmitted, and Downlink Blocks (DLBLKs) which were messages and acknowledgements sent from the aircraft to the DSP.  Realizing the very simple fact that there were no uplinks acknowledged by the aircraft after their reported crash times renders Balsamo's entire argument completely moot.

That PDF alone shows just how ridiculous Balsamo's claims are and I tip my hat to Mr. Warren Stutt for sharing it.

If that isn't convincing enough for you or if you have a genuine interest in how ACARS actually works according to the official documentation provided by the organization which maintains the standards by which it functions and how their specifications conflict with Rob Balsamo's interpretations, feel free to read on.



The Claim and a Brief History of its Origins:

Rob Balsamo, co-founder of PilotsFor911Truth.org, recently published an article on his website describing the Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) and provided FOIA released documents2 which he claims demonstrate that United 175 was still in the air over Pennsylvania after the reported crash time at the World Trade Center in New York.  To anyone unfamiliar with the ACARS system the case he presents can give the appearance of being very compelling.  If you'd like to read the current version of his article, it was still available here at the time this blog was originally written.  The article has been revised at least once prior to now, only after I pointed out a particularly deceptive portion of the first draft, and it may have undergone additional revisions by the time you have arrived here to read.

This blog entry is a rebuttal to the claims about ACARS messaging put forth in Balsamo's article and as you will find, it debunks the very premise upon which he has based his claims.  Similarly this blog debunks much of the ACARS related work that Woody Box has been disseminating in his blogs for the past several years.  Before I get into the details of the article's claims and how they are baseless, I'll share a little bit about myself and the sources used to debunk this claim.

I am not involved in aviation in any way, nor am I an ACARS expert.  I first heard about ACARS around October of 2011 in a discussion here on Unexplained-Mysteries.com and all of my research regarding the subject has been from sources located on the internet.  Also involved with these discussions was UM's illustrious member Czero 101, who has tracked down and helped clarify many of the sources provided for this blog entry.  I give many thanks to Cz for his impeccable research abilities.  I'd also like to mention that Rob Balsamo himself was directly involved with those discussions, at least initially, under the pseudonym of ValkyrieWings.

The ACARS related discussions began in that thread from a quote provided by UM member skyeagle409 in post #410 but really started picking up speed around post #702 when UM member bubs49 introduced some of the theories espoused by the aforementioned Woody Box.

Worthy of mention is the fact that Balsamo ran with this story despite multiple problems with the hypothesis which were pointed out by several people involved in that thread.  Also worthy of mention is the fact that he partially relied on sources for his article which were actually tracked down and presented by Czero and myself in refutation of his arguments.  Much of the information in this blog has already been presented in the above thread and has been viewed by Rob Balsamo and other members from PilotsFor911Truth.  Despite that, they have not removed the incorrect information from the article and they continue to argue against the documented facts which have refuted their premise.

I'm confident that any unbiased reader of this blog, after digesting the information within, will agree that PilotsFor911Truth should fully and publicly retract the article if their intention is truly to uncover and distribute the truth.  Considering that they spammed links to their article to as many discussion forums and quasi-news sites as they could, they should replace the original article with a full retraction of the claims.  To make it easy, I hereby give Rob Balsamo permission to redirect the article link to this very blog so that people can understand the issues at hand based on actual official documentation instead of self proclaimed ACARS experts.

Some of the sources I've relied on are freely available and I will provide links to them both within and at the end of the blog.  Unfortunately, the two most important sources are not freely available.  These are specifications published by the company who defines and maintains the standards for the ACARS messaging system; Aeronautical Radio Incorprated (ARINC).  I will not be distributing these documents in full due to copyright reasons, but I will provide links to where these technical references can be purchased should the reader be inclined to do so.  I'll also quote from and provide screen shots of relevant sections of these documents in order to explain why the core of Balsamo's claims have no merit whatsoever.  These are ARINC Specifications 618-5 3 and 620-4 4, which define the functional aspects of ACARS messaging that were in place circa September 11, 2001.

Let's get into the actual details.



The Debunk:

Balsamo begins his article with a brief description of ACARS which was quite concise and accurate for the most part at the time this blog was originally written.  But then he presents his claim which is based on a complete misunderstanding of the actual ACARS message format and its significance.  I've hi-lighted aspects of his false claim below in bold purple text.


Rob Balsamo said:

Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System (ACARS) is a device used to send messages to and from an aircraft. Very similar to text messages and email we use today, Air Traffic Control, the airline itself, and other airplanes can communicate with each other via this "texting" system. ACARS was developed in 1978 and is still used today. Similar to cell phone networks, the ACARS network has remote ground stations installed around the world to route messages from ATC, the airline, etc, to the aircraft depending on it's location and vice versa. ACARS Messages have been provided through the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA) which demonstrate that the aircraft received messages through ground stations located in Harrisburg, PA, and then later routed through a ground station in Pittsburgh, 20 minutes after the aircraft allegedly impacted the South Tower in New York. How can messages be routed through such remote locations if the aircraft was in NY, not to mention how can messages be routed to an aircraft which allegedly crashed 20 minutes earlier? Pilots For 9/11 Truth have briefly touched on this subject in 9/11: Intercepted through the excellent research of "Woody Box", who initially discovered such alarming information in the released FOIA documents(1). We now have further information which confirms the aircraft was not in the vicinity of New York City when the attacks occurred.



The very root of his claim depends on an interpretation of the released ACARS messages themselves, which he attempts to explain next.  He presents the messages addressed to United Flight 175, hi-lighting his misinterpretation for us.  I'll again draw attention to his erroneous statements using bold purple text.

Rob Balsamo said:

These are the 'text' (ACARS) messages in question -

The format for these messages is pretty straight forward. To limit the technical details, we will explain the most important parts of the messages, however, for full Message Block Format Code standards, click here. The remote ground station (MDT in the message below) used to route the message to the aircraft, the time and date in which the message is sent (111259, meaning the 11th of Sept, at 1259Z or 0859 Eastern), the flight number (UA175), and the tail number of the airplane in which the message is intended (N612UA), are all highlighted in red. The underlined date and time is when the message was received by the airplane.

This message was sent on Sept 11, at 1259Z (8:59AM Eastern) to United Flight 175, tail number N612UA, routed through the MDT remote ground station (Harrisburg International Airport, also known as Middleton).

DDLXCXA SFOLM CHI58R SFOFRSAM
.SFOLMUA 111259/JER
CMD
AN N612UA/GL MDT
- QUSFOLMUA 1UA175 BOSLAX
I HEARD OF A REPORTED INCIDENT ABOARD YOUR ACFT. PLZ VERIFY ALL
IS NORMAL....THX 777SAM
SFOLM JERRY TSEN

;09111259 108575 0543





This message was sent on Sept 11, at 1303Z (9:03AM Eastern, the time of the crash) to United Flight 175, tail number N612UA, routed through the MDT remote ground station (Harrisburg International Airport, also known as Middleton).

DDLXCXA CHIAK CH158R
.CHIAKUA 111303/ED
CMD
AN N612UA/GL MDT
- QUCHIYRUA 1UA175 BOSLAX
- MESSAGE FROM CHIDD -
HOW IS THE RIDE. ANY THING DISPATCH CAN DO FOR YOU...
CHIDD ED BALLINGER

;09111303 108575 0545





This message was also sent on Sept 11, at 1303Z (9:03AM Eastern, the time of the crash) to United Flight 175, tail number N612UA, routed through the MDT remote ground station (Harrisburg International Airport, also known as Middleton).

DDLXCXA CHIYR CH158R
.CHIYRUA 111303/AD
CMD
AN N612UA/GL MDT
- QUCHIYRUA 1UA175 BOSLAX
- MESSAGE FROM CHIDD -
NY APROACH LOOKIN FOR YA ON 127.4
CHIDD AD ROGERS

;09111303 108575 0546





This message was sent on Sept 11, at 1323Z (9:23AM Eastern, 20 minutes after the time of the crash) to United Flight 175, tail number N612UA, routed through the PIT remote ground station (Pittsburgh International Airport).

DDLXCXA CHIAK CH158R
.CHIAKUA DA 111323/ED
CMD
AN N612UA/GL PIT
- QUCHIYRUA 1UA175 BOSLAX
- MESSAGE FROM CHIDD -
/BEWARE ANY COCKPIT INTROUSION: TWO AIRCAFT IN NY . HIT TRADE C
NTER BUILDS...
CHIDD ED BALLINGER

;09111323 108575 0574




This portion of the article is factually incorrect with two very specific and important details.
  • "The remote ground station (MDT in the message below) used to route the message to the aircraft" <is> "highlighted in red."
  • "The underlined date and time is when the message was received by the airplane."


These details are the basis upon which his entire claim rests, and they are both incorrect.  I'll outline why they are incorrect and what they actually mean below.




Let's take a closer look at the first false claim from the article.




1. "The remote ground station (MDT in the message below) used to route the message to the aircraft" <is> "highlighted in red."



In defense of the assumptions presented in Mr. Balsamo's article and several blogs by Woody Box, the actual significance of this "MDT" is only outlined in the technical specifications mentioned previously; 6183 and 6204.  Much of the discussion regarding these messages has been based on the assumption that the Remote Ground Stations (RGSs) in the released FOIA printout defined the actual RGS used for attempted uplink to the aircraft.  Until very recently, I was also under this same impression.  However this in fact is not the case.

The "MDT" ground station referenced in this FOIA document is actually just a predicted RGS provided by the airline when the message was originally sent and is only used if the Data link Service Provider (DSP) has no other routing information to work with.  It is possible for the predicted RGS to also be the actual RGS, and generally speaking they do actually line up more often than not; when the aircraft actually follows its registered flight plan.

To illustrate this, consider the final message which was sent from Ed Ballinger for delivery to UA175 at 9:23 Eastern time (1323 Zulu).

DDLXCXA CHIAK CH158R
.CHIAKUA DA 111323/ED
CMD
AN N612UA/GL PIT
- QUCHIYRUA 1UA175 BOSLAX
- MESSAGE FROM CHIDD -
/BEWARE ANY COCKPIT INTROUSION: TWO AIRCAFT IN NY . HIT TRADE C
NTER BUILDS...
CHIDD ED BALLINGER

;09111323 108575 0574



The 4th line contains two elements provided within the message text itself by the airline. These are referred to as Text Element Identifiers (TEIs). The first is defined as the Aircraft Number (AN) and the second as the Ground Locator or Ground Station (GL), as found in Table 3.2.3-1 on page 16 (PDF Page 24) of ARINC 620-44.

The Aircraft Number (AN) is the primary means that the DSP uses for routing messages to the aircraft by correlation to an internal routing table which is regularly updated by automated transmissions from the aircraft itself.

The significance of the GL PIT element is described on the following page which discusses uplink conversion and processing functions.


Posted Image



In particular, notice conditions c and d as follows:

c. The SMT contains either an Aircraft Registration Number (AN) text element or a Flight Identifier (FI) text element and the corresponding text element is valid. Refer to Appendix B2. If the DSP does not have tracking information for the aircraft addressed, the following supplementary condition applies:

d. If the SMT contains either a GL text element (approximate geographic location of aircraft) or an AP text element (airport location of aircraft) and that text element identifies an airport or city known to the DSP, the DSP uses this information to determine the ground station for transmission to the aircraft.


This significance is further described on page 17 (PDF Page 25)4 as follows:

The DSP records the flight identifier for each aircraft from the aircraft's downlink messages. If the TEI FI is used subsequently in addressing an uplink message, the message is sent to the aircraft with the AN or FI address depending on the input TEI. If the DSP cannot perform this conversion but the user has included GL or AP TEIs, the uplink ACARS message will be sent through the station specified with the flight identifier in the address field.



Posted Image




And again further on page 18 (PDF Page 26)4 here:


For an uplink message that requires delivery to an aircraft not active in the system, DSPs start with the Geographic Locator (GL) or Airport Locator (AP) specified by the ground user (airline or other host computer). Delivery through each possible locator is attempted a configurable number of times.



Posted Image




It is possible to have more than one TEI in any given message, but you need to separate them by a forward slash "/" as seen in line 4 from the referenced message above:

AN N612UA/GL PIT


The fact that this text is part of the original message sent by the airline bears repeating.  There is no doubt about this fact.

This means that it is a prediction of where the airline anticipates the aircraft to be.  It is not the RGS location which has been chosen by the DSP for routing.

I'd like to add a quote from another UM member, Q24, which might help to clarify the aspects of this first point for any readers who may be struggling with the concepts.

View PostQ24, on 23 December 2011 - 08:03 PM, said:

First off we need to understand that the initial ACARS file we were looking at here (the centre evidence of Balsamo's theory) is an airline record of the messages they sent, or attempted to send, to the aircraft.  We know this because 1) the file is a record of United Airlines, 2) the sender is noted, e.g. Ballinger and 3) each text matches the format expected of an initial uplink message noted in the ACARS manual.

It is vital to keep this in mind – these are the messages as sent by the airline to ARINC.  This means that when we see an RGS noted in those messages, e.g. MDT, that information has originated from the airline before even reaching ARINC.

The ACARS manual explains what then happens: -


c. The SMT contains either an Aircraft Registration Number (AN) text element or a Flight Identifier (FI) text element and the corresponding text element is valid. Refer to Appendix B2. If the DSP does not have tracking information for the aircraft addressed, the following supplementary condition applies:

d. If the SMT contains either a GL text element (approximate geographic location of aircraft) or an AP text element (airport location of aircraft) and that text element identifies an airport or city known to the DSP, the DSP uses this information to determine the ground station for transmission to the aircraft.


The above indicates that: -
  • If ARINC (the DSP) does not have tracking information for the aircraft, the RGS as supplied by the airline will be used.
  • If ARINC (the DSP) does have tracking information for the aircraft, that tracking information will be used to select the RGS, and that supplied by the airline will not be used.

Now we know from the file supplied by Warren that downlinks were received from the aircraft prior to the crash times and therefore ARINC did have tracking information.  The RGS was therefore selected based on this tracking information, not based on the RGS as supplied by the airline.  The ARINC tracking information if available effectively overrides the airline supplied RGS.

So when Balsamo presents that initial ACARS log from UAL and tells us the RGS noted was necessarily the one actually used, the whole premise is wrong and, well… he either flat out doesn't know what he's talking about or is intending to mislead.

If you go back through booNyzarC's blog post you will see this same information.  I hope the way I have written it helps you better understand the first point made.

I hope that Q24 doesn't mind my inclusion of his quote in this blog, but I honestly think that it will help many people get a better grasp of the concepts that I've tried to outline above.  Very well written Q24!


The first foundational premise of Balsamo's article is now crushed.





Now let's talk about the false claim regarding the secondary time stamp.




2. "The underlined date and time is when the message was received by the airplane."



Balsamo quotes from an FOIA document6 as "proof" of his claim.

Rob Balsamo said:

If one references the standard message block codes linked above, you will notice that a "Technical Acknowledgement" section should be present in ACARS messages. What this means, is that the ACARS system can confirm if the sent 'text' messages have been received or not without requiring any crew input to manually acknowledge the message was received. Similar to an email which may have bounced back, or your cell phone telling you that your text message failed to send, this automatic technical acknowledgement would let the reader know the message failed receipt, or if it were received. An ACK or NAK should be present denoting received or failed, respectively, according to standard message formats. Unfortunately, these standard codes are not available in the above messages. However, according to a Memorandum For The Record(2) quoting United Dispatcher Ed Ballinger, the second time stamp on the bottom of the message, at United Airlines, is the "Technical Acknowledgement" from the airplane that the message has been received -

Mr. Ballinger stated that the ACARS messages have two times listed: the time sent and the time received. He stated that once he sends the message it is delivered to the addressed aircraft through AIRINC immediately. He is not aware of any delay in the aircraft receiving the message after he sends it.


According to the above statement made by Mr. Ballinger, all of the above messages were received by the aircraft.


That seems pretty cut and dried doesn't it?  Unfortunately for Balsamo and his claims, appearances aren't always what they seem.  What Balsamo isn't sharing with you here is that just below this statement from Ballinger we can see that Team 7 makes the following note.6

NOTE: TEAM 7 WILL RECEIVE BRIEFING BY AIRINC ON THE TIMING ISSUES INVOLVED FROM COMPOSITION OF THE MESSAGE BY THE DISPATCHER, TO TRANSMITTAL TO AIRINC, TO TRANSMITTAL FROM AIRINC TO THE AIRCRAFT, TO THE AIRCRAFT'S RECIPT OF THE MESSAGE.


Unlike Balsamo's shoddy research on this subject, Team 7 appears to have been interested in a true investigation which involves corroborating witness statements with official documentation and the clarifications which can only be provided by the actual agency which defines the standards and manages the operations of the ACARS communication system itself; ARINC.

There are multiple ways to interpret the above statement by Ballinger.  Balsamo chooses to interpret his statement in a way which suits his false claims, jumping to premature conclusions and presenting them as "facts."  I choose to interpret Ballinger's statement in a way which agrees with official documentation supplied by ARINC and Boeing, plus the more detailed ACARS log which has been recently provided by Warren Stutt.  It is merely coincidental that the interpretation I subscribe to also happens to refute Balsamo's claims.  It should be noted that Ballinger's statements here are fully consistent with the explanation I've provided from the documentation.  Balsamo could certainly realign himself with reality by retracting his false claims if he so chooses.

Speaking of documentation, let's take a look at some instead of relying on self proclaimed ACARS experts.

First, consider this overview of the Air/Ground and Ground/Ground segments of ACARS communication from page 7 (PDF Page 15) of ARINC 620-44.


Posted Image




This general overview shows us that when a ground user (such as the airline or Air Traffic Control (ATC)) sends a message addressed to a specific aircraft through the ACARS system the message must pass through multiple layers.  Being an overview, it is somewhat ambiguous, but it should still be clear from the diagrams alone that each sent message has to flow through multiple points before reaching the destination aircraft.

Next, let's take a look at a diagram that was originally provided by Czero 101 in post #888 of the above mentioned discussion thread from a Boeing document titled Air Traffic Services Systems Requirements and Objectives - Generation 25.


Posted Image




This gives us a lot more detail about what transpires at each layer.  In particular it shows that there are two acknowledgements from the DSP to the ground user, the first of which is merely acknowledging that the message is acceptable for delivery through the remaining layers.

Here is a very brief summation of the layers that every message must pass through for a fully acknowledged end-to-end transmission:
  • It needs to go through the Ground/Ground link from the airline to the DSP.
  • It needs to be accepted and acknowledged by the DSP as a validly formatted message; which is the first acknowledgement that we see in the above ACARS messages.
  • It needs to undergo a "Conversion and Processing Function" with the DSP.
  • It needs to be forwarded from the Central Processor System (CPS) of the DSP to the most appropriate Remote Ground Station (RGS) based on a regularly updated internal routing table (or the predicted location supplied by the airline if there is no routing information available.)
  • It needs to be converted into a format for Very High Frequency (VHF) transmission from the RGS and transmitted.
  • It needs to be received and acknowledged by the Communications Management Unit (CMU) on the aircraft.
  • That acknowledgement needs to be received by one or more RGSs and forwarded to the CPS of the DSP.
  • And finally, the forwarded aircraft acknowledgement is sent from the DSP to the original sender.

That is all very interesting, but how can we know whether the second timestamp in the ACARS messages from the original FOIA document are the final acknowledgements from the aircraft or the initial acknowledgements from the DSP?

Warren Stutt's previously mentioned PDF provides us with the answer.  Unfortunately the PDF doesn't include the messages for United Flight 175, but it does provide the messages for the other three aircraft; and with that we can correlate between both FOIA documents using the messages which were addressed to United Flight 93 as a connecting reference to assist with understanding and interpretation of the whole.  Aside from the fact that there are no DLBLK messages from the aircraft after the reported crash times, which should be sufficient enough evidence in itself for anyone with an even partially working brain, there is another indicator as well; though for anyone incapable of recognizing how ludicrous the whole claim is based on what I just mentioned the following explanation might just be completely lost on them as well.

All of the messages to United Flight 93 in the original FOIA release have a secondary time stamp except for the very last one.  What is different about this message from the others?  It is the only ULMSG that wasn't accepted for possible delivery to the aircraft.  You can see this outlined in the following spreadsheet very distinctly, as I've color coded the individual ULMSGs and their related ULBLK attempts.


Posted Image


Even message 0708 was initially accepted for possible delivery and queued, only to be intercepted 2 minutes and 12 seconds later.  The last message however, was rejected outright.

This message:

CHIAO CHI68R
.CHIAOUA 111420/ROB
CMD
AN N591UA/GL DEC
- QUCHIA0UA 2
DDLXCXA
***UA93 EWRSFO***



This conclusively proves that the secondary time stamp is the initial acknowledgement sent from the DSP just as Czero 101 presented oh so long ago.

Just like the first, the second foundational element of Balsamo's article is also now crushed.






Conclusion:


By definitively disproving those two foundational points of Balsamo's claim, the rest of his article crumbles in a free fall.


The only question now is whether or not PilotsFor911Truth have any integrity remaining whatsoever.

Their long lost credibility has an opportunity to make a comeback.
  • Will they seize the moment and post a full retraction of their falsified ACARS claims?
  • Or will they continue to present proven disinformation as if it is "fact?"

From what I understand the head honcho over there doesn't take very kindly to people who push disinformation...

Sincerely,

booNyzarC




Sources:

(1) 5 AWA 898 Printout of ARINC Messages.pdf - FOIA logs shared by Warren Stutt
(2) Team7_Box13_UAL_ACARS.pdf - Original FOIA released ACARS messages printout for UA93 and UA175.
(3) ARINC Specification 618-5 - AIR/GROUND CHARACTER-ORIENTED PROTOCOL SPECIFICATION
(4) ARINC Specifications 620-4 - DATA LINK GROUND SYSTEM STANDARD AND INTERFACE SPECIFICATION (DGSSIIS)
(5) Air Traffic Services Systems Requirements and Objectives - Generation 2
(6) MEMORANDUM FOR THE RECORD 01090
(?) Rob Balsamo's original ACARS article.






Return to Sender

DEBUNKED ACARS CONFIRMED - 9/11 AIRCRAFT AIRBORNE LONG AFTER CRASH DEBUNKED






Very detailed! Love the way you compiled this research Boony.
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Thanks mate, it has been a labor of love. :P
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