New York: What the MH370 Wing Flap Tells Us, And What It Doesn’t

Flaperon
A policeman and a gendarme stand next to a piece of debris from an unidentified aircraft found on the French Indian Ocean island of La Reunion, on July 29, 2015. Photo: Yannick Pitou/AFP/Getty Images

The discovery last week of what appeared to be a piece of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 on the shores of Réunion Island seemed at first blush a giant leap toward solving the famously perplexing mystery. Officials declared that, based on photos, the part could only have come from a Boeing 777. And since only one 777 has ever been lost at sea, physical evidence of the vanished plane seemed at last to be irrefutably in hand.

This marked a huge break in the case, since before now not a single piece of wreckage had ever been spotted. The only evidence that the plane had gone into the ocean was a series of difficult-to-decipher signals received by the satellite company Inmarsat. The incongruity led some, including me, to question whether the plane had really wound up in the Indian Ocean at all. Back in February, I explained in New York how sophisticated hijackers might have infiltrated the plane’s electronic bay in order to spoof the satellite signals and take the plane north to Kazakhstan. MH370 wreckage on the shores of Réunion makes such explanations unnecessary.

Investigators hope to glean from the six-foot-long chunk important clues about where and how the plane went down. The piece, called a flaperon, forms part of the trailing edge of the wing, and was located just behind the right engine. The front part of it looks dinged up but more or less intact, but pieces on the side and much of the rear part have been ripped away. That damage might have taken place in the ocean, but if on inspection it appears to have been caused by high-speed airflow (as a plane might experience in a steep dive) or impact with the water, it could shed light on the flight’s final moments.

The fact that the debris was found on Réunion itself provides a hint as to where the plane went down. The island lies on the far side of the Indian Ocean from the suspected crash area, a distance of some 2,500 miles. The ocean’s strongest east-to-west current, the South Equatorial Current, runs about a thousand miles north of where searchers are currently looking. Should the search area be moved up? In the coming weeks oceanographers will be refining their models in order to figure that out. To lend a hand, biologists will examine the barnacles and other sea life found living on the debris in order to determine how long it was in the water and what part of the ocean it passed through.

But, as if steeped in the weirdness of all things MH370, the Réunion flaperon came wrapped in an unexpected layer of ambiguity.

All airline parts carry identifying labels, much as cars carry Vehicle Identification Numbers etched on the engine block. In the normal course of things, this plate should have been attached to the rib end of the flaperon and allowed investigators to make an instantaneous identification. As fate would have it, the plate is missing.

That’s why a hastily convened team of investigators from Malaysia, France, and the United States is meeting this Wednesday in Toulouse to open the sealed container in which the flaperon has been dispatched from Réunion. In the absence of a serial number, they’ll have to look for peculiarities of materials or construction that will allow them to say definitively that the flaperon came from MH370 and isn’t, as some have suggested, a discard from a parts factory in India.

It’s going to be a tricky job, and the stakes are high: MH370 has unnerved the aviation community like no crash before. Until we can figure out what took it down, the danger is ever-present that it could happen again.

While the world’s attention is on the flaperon, however, the sonar-scanning of the seabed on the other side of the Indian Ocean promises to tell us even more about MH370’s fate. If the small flotilla of search ships can locate the plane’s primary debris field on the ocean floor, they’ll likely find the black boxes that can tell us exactly what happened to the flight. But even if they don’t, they’ll reveal something important about what happened.

The area they’re scouring was defined through analysis of the Inmarsat satellite data. Part of the data tells investigators that the plane must have wound up somewhere along a broad arc 3,000 miles in radius. Another part, subjected to a new and complex form of analysis, showed that the plane headed in a generally southern direction. Where, exactly, depends on how it flew. If the plane flew slowly it would have taken a curving path and wound up north of a subsea feature called Broken Ridge. If it flew fast, its path would have been straighter and taken it south of Broken Ridge.

Among the attractions of the latter option was that it fit with an easy-to-imagine scenario: that, after flying up the Malacca Strait, whoever had been in control became incapacitated and the plane flew straight south on autopilot as a “ghost ship” until it ran out of fuel. Once that happened, the plane would have quickly spiraled into the ocean within a few miles of the final arc, meaning that the debris would have to be located within a fairly small area of seabed.

Last October, after months of internal debate, Australian officials decided that the straight-and-fast scenario was more likely. They laid out a 60,000-square-kilometer search grid and hired contractors to begin scanning. Their confidence in their analysis was so great that they reportedly kept a bottle of Champagne in the fridge, ready to be popped at any time. The longer they searched without finding the plane, officials said, the more their confidence grew, because they knew the plane had to be inside that box.

As time went by, however, a problem emerged: The plane wasn’t there. After six months, there was a 99 percent probability that the search had covered the calculated end point, and that number only kept climbing toward 100. Authorities stopped talking about how sure they were that it was in the 60,000-square-kilometer area, and announced that they would expand the search zone to twice that size.

What went unremarked upon in the general press was that there was no theoretical justification for the authorities to continue the search in this way. To get so far from the final arc, the plane would have to have been actively piloted, because only a conscious pilot could have kept the plane out of a death spiral. So the ghost-ship scenario was out the window. A plane held in a glide by a conscious pilot could travel for a hundred miles or more, far too huge an area of ocean to scan. The only reason to search the extra 60,000 square miles was that, for the authorities, it was better than admitting they had no idea what they were doing.

It also kept them from having to contemplate other unattractive alternative scenarios. Perhaps the plane didn’t fly straight and fast, but slow and curvy, and wound up north of Broken Ridge. It’s hard to imagine why someone would fly like this, but then again it’s hard to imagine why someone would sit patiently on a six-hour death flight to nowhere. If a slow, curvy flight was what happened, then again a terminal death spiral could by no means be assumed, and the required search area would be impossibly large.

To be sure, none of these scenarios make a lot of sense. But then, so much of what we know about MH370 is baffling. If the perps flew into the southern Indian Ocean because they wanted to disappear, why didn’t they just fly to the east instead of turning back over the Malay peninsula? If the aim was suicide, why not just put the nose down and crash right away, like every other suicide pilot we know of? And why did the perps turn off the satellite communication, and then turn it back on again, a procedure that — by the way — few airline pilots know how to do?

Though it has earned much less attention from the world press, the failure of the seabed search actually tells us a lot about what did or did not happen to MH370. And what it tells us is that this case is as weird as ever.

This piece originally ran on the New York magazine website on August 4, 2015.

425 thoughts on “New York: What the MH370 Wing Flap Tells Us, And What It Doesn’t”

  1. Somebody has alerted to me this post on PPRUNE regarding the flaperon found on Reunion Island. I pass it along with comment:

    10th Aug 2015, 16:41 #462 (permalink)
    mayam13

    Join Date: Jun 2013
    Location: India
    Age: 77
    Posts: 1
    MH 370-Disappearance
    The ‘flaperon’ operating lever is found dismantled, not impact damaged. The outboard nose rib fairing is found partially dismantled. Fastener holes of these items are clearly visible. The weight of water ingested through these holes can sink the ‘flaperon’ to ocean floor. For an item tossed around by ocean currents for sixteen months , the paint is still intact. It is a ‘beyond repair tagged’ structural scrap from a Boeing approved repair facility. Manipulation of flight MH 370 started before it took off and has not stopped even after sixteen months.

    http://www.pprune.org/rumours-news/565335-flaperon-washes-up-reunion-island-24.html#post9077544

  2. @Stevan, of course this isn’t an official analyse. Victor would’ve said so and it would be around the world by now anyway. But it’s an interesting opinion nonetheless from someone who points out a few things. Others equally knowledgeable can jump in.
    That’s all.

  3. @StevanG: Take it for what it is: a rumor on a pilot’s network. I put it out there in the event somebody can add something useful.

  4. That was this poster’s first post, and he is 77 years old according to the sidebar if I am reading it correctly. Also there is nothing identifying the source of this information.

    The flaperon is not hollow. Injested water would not permeate throughout the flaperon.

    I think, for now, I am going to circular file this one, and wait for the French to announce something.

  5. @VictorI

    Regarding the PPRUNE poster opinion on the flaperon condition:

    A banned person on this site has said:

    From FAA Order 8120.11 (1996):

    “… All FAA inspectors should recommend to persons disposing of scrap aircraft parts and materials that these parts and materials be mutilated prior to release.. Mutilation may be accomplished by one or a combination of the following procedures… (c) removal of a major integral part (d) permanent distortion of parts (e) cutting significant size hole with a cutting torch or saw… (h) removing manufacturers’ identification, part, lot, batch and serial numbers… “.

    The flaperon exhibits the sort of mutilation described above.

    http://www.reddit.com/r/MH370/comments/3fxyib/alternate_flaperon_sources/cttb9pa

    The cited doc is said to be:

    http://www.faa.gov/documentLibrary/media/Order/8120.11.pdf

  6. The hijacking of MH370 appears to be a very well planned operation, suggesting that the convienent to imagine suicide theory should be thrown out of the window. Looking at how the plane turned and headed for the SIO, it was probably on a suicide mission to DG. The pilots appear to have created doubts in the cockpits and confused the hijackers to finally take the plane in to an area of no return where it would not be a threat to anyone. In that case, the pilots would be the heros.

  7. @ doubters

    Quote from Mackoviak:

    French prosecutor Serge Mackoviak said Aug. 5 that an aircraft part found last week on La Réunion island is very likely to have come from missing Malaysia Airlines Flight MH370, but further analysis was needed to formally confirm the findings.

    end quote//

    http://aviationweek.com/commercial-aviation/french-prosecutor-relatively-certain-flaperon-mh370

    Does anyone believe that experienced forsensic personnel would stand aside, and let the person leading the investigation make a statement like that? If there were such obvious issues with the part, the above statement would have never made it into the press.

    It is stuff like this, and the people who want to believe it, that drives me nuts. Good grief people. Use some common sense.

  8. I guess I’m stuck now with this ridiculous nickname…

    Looking at the photos it’s clear the trailing edge of the flaperon was broken along an internal partition. Looking at the partition it’s clear the flaperon have some empty space inside. The French using a borescope to look for serial/part numbers also indicates there is some space inside. This of course doesn’t mean the flaperon would sink if filled with seawater.

  9. Littlefoot – the Maldive item is not identified atm. All we have is an account of a lost barrage? Whatever it is something very forceful smashed it up and it does look somewhat like plane wreckage. As soon as I saw it was north of the equator I thought here goes and sure as eggs the Malaysians are suddenly cautious – “at this stage, it is highly premature to speculate on whether this debris is in any way connected to MH370”. If it is MH370 wreckage then it was an equatorial crash and the computer says no.

    The honeycomb you see is for weight minimizing and not buoyancy – my thumb again.

  10. @Dennis, the French investigator’s quote means as little as the comment we’re discussing right now. Of course it’s highly likely that the flap is from mh370. It came out of the Indian Ocean and it’s a piece from a B777. That makes it highly likely this comes from mh370. And frankly, even if it was planted there I would still expect it to be from mh370. Anything else would be very hard to explain. But if there are obvious issues we will hear about it. So far the French have not confirmed that this flap is the one the plane most likely went down with. I’m surprised and didn’t expect that. Let’s wait with an open mind and see what will be announced next.

  11. @Lauren H, I looked and couldn’t find any report of any AF 447 debris washing ashore.

    There has been lots of debris wash ashore from crashes near the coast. I wrote “disappearance at sea” to denote crashes away from the coast which I arbitrarily define as , e.g., in my 10/26 post discussing specific flights, 200 miles or more offshore.

    One database I’m looking at to guesstimate the likelihood of debris washing ashore is from the NOAA Global Drifter Program. Here’s link to the status of all the buoys released since 1979; “Death Code 1” means the buoy ran aground, which I assume means washed ashore. http://www.aoml.noaa.gov/phod/dac/drifter_deaths.html

    NOAA has an older study (2003) which says that of the “dead” buoys, 64% stopped transmitting, 22% ran aground and 14% were picked up by ocean-going passers-by. (This suggests that ships might be approximately as likely to spot MH370 debris as shore-searchers, which is a possibility that had not occurred to me since shortly after the crash.) It also gave a buoy half life of 400 days if I understood it correctly.

    What overall percentage of the buoys have run aground in the Indian Ocean and what their half life was is information a proficient person could extract from the NOAA data pretty easily I suspect. At this point in the program, NOAA is trying to keep 1250 buoys afloat worldwide at all times, but in earlier years fewer were deployed.

    Since these buoys are all designed to stay afloat, while none of the (let’s guess) 25,000 pieces of MH370 debris are (25,000 being thrown out based upon the number of pieces of debris recovered from Swiss Air 111), I suspect that the rate at which which they run aground is at least several orders of magnitude higher than the average piece of MH370 debris.

    So that’s one basis (the others being the relative lack of debris not designed to float [such as boats and docks] to have washed ashore on the West Coast from the Japan Tsunami of 2011, and, the lack of debris from other aircraft that have disappeared at sea) for speculating that if the flaperon tells us anything about what happened to MH370, it is a great stroke of luck for it to have washed ashore and found.

  12. Dennis – I’m not a doubter as much as I’m very bothered by it. The part does appear to have been destroyed and discarded as mandated.

    We don’t of the objects movements for sure either. How often is something washes up then away again, sometimes reappearing, sometimes never? There may turn out to be stages of shellfish present?

  13. @ Alex_not

    There is obviously lots of empty space inside. The question is whether these empty spaces are connected. The term “honeycomb structure” is ambiguous, but one take on it is that there are many isolated “cells” within the flaperon. In any case, when you have the part sitting in front of a bunch of experts it is certain that Mr. “77 year old Indian” is not going to outsmart them looking at a photograph.

    This is one of those times where speculation on forums is virtually useless. The experts have the part. It is simply not productive to speculate on its authenticity or failure mode.

  14. @Matty, I think some of the debris were metal pieces and belonged to the barge. Others aren’t identified yet.
    All I said was that I expect a lot of “aircraft” debris to turn up which turns out to be something else upon further inspection.
    That said: I don’t feel comfortable about any announcements made by the Maldivian/Malaysian cooperators.
    And even if we get many false alarms. People should keep looking everywhere by all means.

  15. @DennisW

    what I find ridiculous is that this post stays undeleted (and it’s his first post) while they immediately ban people that mention it could come from the northern part of the southern arc because on a supposedly pilot’s forum it would be a conspiracy to try to land somewhere but not conspiracy to send it nowhere

    twisted logic

  16. Don,

    “Could any model offer a bias to illustrate predominantly wind influenced drift?”
    Yes, indeed. Any Lagrangian oil spill model is capable of doing this. But there are two issues: (1) wind data at the sea level has to be accurate; (2) coefficients to define wind/current forcing are buoy/debris specific.

    You say “Localised: in the vicinity of where the lost craft is expected to be”. Frankly, it is a very loose definition: it was an arc of several hundreds km length. I am not sure what ATSB tried to achieve by deploying buoys that could stream data for 30 days only.

  17. Dennis,

    Re: “A mechanical problem does not explain the lack of communication.”.

    You known it can explain, right? It cannot explain some other things, or more exactly it cannot explain the whole set of ‘facts’. But what hypothesis can? Your CI version suffers of the same drawback (do I need to remind inconsistencies?). I don’t see why it would be more plausible than a technical failure or hijacking.

  18. Dennis – At the risk of sounding unreasonable it’s taking a while and becoming conspicuous.

    Another area of unease – the ID plate. It’s readily accepted that it would have detached while at sea but whatever they used would have to be a water resistant bond? It doesn’t have to be in the drink to be subject to moisture. I wasn’t going to simply assume that it would detach. The sealers on my roofing have been there since 2005 and are guaranteed for 25 years.

  19. @non-Alex – if it were indeed filled with water it would sink. All of the materials involved are heavier. The only thing keeping it floating would be air or possibly foam.

    @Bruce – interesting analysis. It would seem very unlikely for a part to show up. On the other hand, it would also seem equally difficult to plant a part as one would have no guarantee that it would reach a target.

    @Anyone, particularly the first-time-in-77-years poster – does the mutilation process involve the data plate? If it requires it, the story becomes more enticing. If the destruction requires the plate to stay with the part, then we’re talking about an extreme coincidence: the part was destroyed by the shop, and then handed off to the ocean to remove the data tag.

    At this point, I’m having a hard time believing that the French can’t match the part to MH370. In other words, the delay is due to either the French wanting to continue the investigation or the Malaysians wanting to obstruct it.

  20. @Matty

    It always seems to take longer to do these sorts of things than we would like. I don’t feel that it implies that anything unusual or nefarious is going on. But hey, that is just my opinion.

    I have never participated in forensics of this type so I suppose I am comfortable in my ignorance of the processes, and the time they might take.

  21. Flaperon origin

    All parts in a modern A/C can be traced back to the plant and date of their production. That seems to be no match for the forensic analysis taking place. I would not understand how anyone could be so stupid to try to plant faked evidence in a french territory, whilst the French know how to use a laboratory.

    On the other hand i am shocked that the origin has not been found yet and i think the delay might be due to difficult findings. E.g. i do not know anything about the effects of seawater on a glued serial number plate, but i am very much surprised that the ID-plate is gone. There were no forces at the location where it was fixed, that could have torn it away, because you see no remainders of twisting or bending in that particular place. Also the finding of inconsistencies between maintenance files speaks a very serious language. The French are being polite and use diplomatic language, but there seems to be need for clearification.

  22. @CA

    Exactly. Not an optimal location to plant a fake. The probability of the French being fooled by even an extremely well crafted fake are just about zero. Plus that the Aussies will continue to fumble around in the SIO for another year. Why plant a fake now? There are no plans I have heard to start looking for wreckage on the Asian mainland.

  23. JS – (1) Mutilation may be accomplished bv w one or a combination of the follom7ing procedures. but
    ,
    is not limited to:
    Par 6 3
    8120.11 2/12/96
    0 a
    @I
    0 c
    Cd)
    0 e
    (0
    69
    00
    Grinding.
    Burning.
    Removal of a major integral feature.
    Permanent distortion of parts.
    Cutting a significant size hole with a cutting torch or saw.
    Melting.
    Sawing into many small pieces.
    Removing manufacturers identification, part, lot, batch, and serial numbers.

  24. @CosmicAcademy or @all
    My guess (and hope) is that it has not been planted. But if it has, then just possibly in order to get some leverage on the Malaysian investigation via the French? 😉

    Even if the French lab does not operate on le weekend, then you would expect 4 or 5 working days would be enough to examine the exterior thoroughly, take samples etc.. Then, if no definite conclusion can be established from the exterior would the French be allowed to disassemble it or break it apart or would the delay be due to some “red tape” involving the Malaysians who seem desperate to get hold of it?

  25. All – some are calling the Maldive piece a hoax but it could be the other way around or both. There are some cruel people out there. I’m surprised it’s this difficult to trace the thing.

  26. Susie Crowe,

    It’s MAS not MAH, MH370 not MH360. And where are you getting your facts that the transponder went off 5 seconds after IGARI????? The final sign off was 17:19, comms went off circa 17:21, 90 seconds later, and the IGARI turn was initiated circa 17:30 with comms already off.

    What you are saying is the airline/country sabotaged their own aircraft. I don’t agree with that at all, they are horrible with the investigation, may be hiding maintenance stuff, but as Jeff says, that nefarious I doubt it.

  27. Matty – Perth,

    Yeah, stages of shellfish. And how deep would the flaperon have to have been to have that much accumulation fringed and parasitically encrusted onto it? Well that is Barnacle Bill’s department again and we have not heard from him or his marine biologists as yet.

    As for distinguishing the flaperon, the post Jeff mentioned, a factory part worker should know that piece like the back of their hand, seawater or not. I am glad the French have it. sacre bleu, vive La France, so we still wait…….

  28. @Brock McEwen

    1) counter-intuitive flight path – If you begin with the notion that someone wanted to down a plane where it would be really difficult to find, it’s quite intuitive.

    The flight path up the Strait shows me that someone was concerned about the air-intercept capability of the Indonesians and yet absolutely convinced of the total ineptitude of the Malaysian Air Force (which, by the details of their own interim report, has proven staggering).

    Why not go for the Marianas Trench, which was easily in range? Perhaps because the Philippines is crawling with American naval hardware posing too great a potential for intercept and FDR/CVR recovery?

    North to crash into the snow on Everest? Not through the airspace of India & China and not where the recorders might one day be found and prove to one’s loved ones, irrefutably, what had transpired.

    So a not-so-distant 3rd best option is the SIO. This has proven to quite a good choice over the last 16 months, no? Almost…an intuitive choice.

    2) ISAT data “conflict” – yes, that pesky ISAT data which shows no possible trace of MH370 anywhere near Maldives. What conflict are you speaking of? The mysterious jump from 17120µs BTO to 12510µs BTO between 18:25 & 18:28? That’s been explained ad nauseum. What conflict?

    The 18:28 ring coincides almost perfectly with MEKAR and the chronology of the rings requires a hard turn after 19:41. All the experts involved with BFO calculations, including the IG, put their money on the south turn. What is the conflict?

    That they haven’t found the plane? It’s in an area of up to half a million sq miles and today we learn the Bobby Ulich may want them 6 deg west of their westernmost point (but along the 7th arc). (His contrail evidence suggests three more turns after MEKAR, by the way. Hardly the work of a hypoxic pilot or a zombie autopilot.)

    It ain’t easy, folks. The search area may be revised multiple times before the wreckage is found, if it ever is.

    3) My mind reels at the amount of effort being expended to undermine a mountain of wonderfully thoughtful data that so many bright and talented individuals with actual aviation expertise have worked so hard to unearth.

    That said, I’ll admit I would have thought the French would have voted up or down on the flaperon by now.

  29. Benaiahu – Do we revisit the puncture marks in the flaperon that we discussed last week in light of the destruction methods listed above? At the time you remarked that it appeared to have been hit repeatedly with an axe?

  30. Benaiahu & Matty – Perth,

    And shouldn’t the French investigators be able to tell if the plate with the serial number corroded away from saltwater or was pried away by human force from the epoxy marks present or not present on the flaperon?

  31. Cheryl, Investigators will be able to determine if there was a ‘plate’ on the flaperon, the method and materials used to affixed, and most certainly how it was removed. One of the challenges will be to separate damage occurring from regular use/flight/crash and damages stemming from time spent near shore(s). They have all the tools and brains to figure it out.

  32. If there is puzzlement that the French appear stymied it seems other than respect for the families, this snail pace behooves the investigation. Many here have expressed relief the French were able to seize temporary control from the buffoons in Malaysia so a key component would seem to retain that control as long as possible. I would imagine and hope this has given the French an opportunity for more than flaperon identification which may require a longer time frame

  33. Matty – Perth, My opinion is not worth the revisit, part distributors do not want scavengers reconditioning any part they held in possession with a paper trail and end of life (EOL). So full and complete destruction would be anticipated. I vote no way they would beat a few times with splitting axe and call it a day.

  34. @all

    It boggles the (my) mind that people here are giving ANY consideration whatsoever to a 777 flaperon turning up on Reunion as a possible ‘plant’.

    Here’s a thought. It is 100% from Mh370. Period.

    Just boggles the mind.

  35. Spencer – It doesn’t need to be a “plant”, and if there is any difficulty in matching this thing to a plane then something is wrong – period.

  36. The idea that the flaperon is a ‘plant’ is indeed ridiculous. However, the possibility that it was discarded ‘beyond repair’ requires further investigation. There can’t be that many flaperons that have been discarded that way. The curious aspect then is how it ended up in the Indian Ocean.

  37. Gysbreght – IF…..the flaperon doesn’t check out it could be remembered that there are now many thousands of people around the world(like us) who have almost had their lives derailed with their obsession over MH370. People are out there spending their retirement money to personally investigate this one. Professional from all walks are traversing the globe out of their own pockets to research it. Others are staking their impressive credentials on one outcome or another. It has been bitter and crazed, and many predictions have even been made as to where debris will show up – including Reunion. Scripts are written with projects in the pipe and money has already been made. There are high stakes with this plane. From Companies to govt departments to governments in total, asses are hanging on this plane. It almost represents a new neurosis – Littlefoot can name it! It is not beyond the realms of possibility to me that someone out there may want to finish this argument one way or another – or try to. In this instance, a “plant” could make sense.

  38. @DennisW,

    You are very close with your statement “there are many isolated cells”. The flaperon is a honeycomb sandwich construction; instead of using aluminium skins it has composite sandwich skins.

    To best visualise this think of a bee hive and the frames within the beehive. If you took a frame out (remove the honey) with just the honeycomb and stick a few layers of carbon fibre either side; you now have a composite sandwich panel (the wax honeycomb is replaced with nomex).

    As seen in the many photos, the skins are pretty good shape therefore there are heaps of isolated cells to keep it afloat. Look at the trailing edge views which give you the best view of what I’m trying to show.

    @VictorI,

    The aerodynamic seals do wear and are periodically replaced (not a big job, no major disassembly). Their function is to limit air spillage between flaps either side when the flaps are up; plates at the ends of the flaps allow the flaperon to do it’s movement and not create too much wear on the seals.

    @CosmicAcademy,

    I am not surprised at all that the data plate is gone; search for 777 flaperon on the net. Find an image of a new flaperon and superimpose the position of where the data plate should be in relation to the crash piece. You will see that crash piece is painted where the data plate should be; there should be a neat little rectangle of black/dark grey (there isn’t one).

    Gluing 101; adhesives aren’t that great on paint!

    That said the plate is gone; there will not be much that will conclusively identify it as from MH370. Everything will be part numbers; however the seals (if not too old)and possibly other internal parts may have batch or manufacture date references stamped on that may still be discernible.

    Everyone’s going to have to wait until there’s a call on it.

    OZ

  39. Many of us have been following this blog and other material related to MH370 for a year or more. Did you ever see any serious suggestion that the debris would turn up in this part of the world-including Reunion, Mauritius and Rodrigues or for that matter Madagascar? I don’t think so. It could just mean that ocean currents are still largely unknown.
    I do remember some pictures of some potential debris found in the Maldives soon after the disappearance-though the link has now vanished: http://www.maldives.com/destination-guides/debris-missing-flight-mh370-washed-beach-maldives/762
    Does anyone know what came of this? There does not seem to be any follow-up news.

  40. @Gybreght

    according to the famous list of Coppernickus there are 6 777 A/C that have been scrapped.

    No big deal for Boeing to look up the maintenance records and find out whether the unexpected seal inside the flaperon was on record for one of those.

  41. @ OZ, what doe it mean: that there’s no little rectangle on the flap – at the location where the plate should have been? Shouldn’t there be discernable markers?

  42. The Lido radar plot shows MH370 following VAMPI-MEKAR with a cross-track error about 1-2 nm (by eyeballing). This scatter is consistent with the accuracy of primary radar (0.15 to 0.3 deg) at a range of 175 nm. Factual Information, FIg 1.1B states it passed “… 10 Nm North MEKAR”. That distance is big enough to be inconsistent with the Lido plot. The 10 Nm North is roughly consistent with track drawn in the figure. However, FI also shows airway N571 from MEKAR to NILAM to IGOGU making a left turn at NILAM, whereas Skyvector shows that the three are aligned in a straight line. Something is amiss with Factual Information.

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