Listening to Barnacles — UPDATED

(FOCUS) THE REUNION ISLAND-MH 370 FLIGHT-DEBIRSIt’s not every day that you need to talk to one of the world’s leading experts on goose barnacles of the Indian Ocean, but today is one of those days, so I considered myself very fortunate to get in touch with Charles Griffiths, an emeritus professor of marine biology at the University of Cape Town and author of the seminal paper “South African pelagic goose barnacles (Cirripedia, Thoracica): substratum preferences and influence of plastic debris on abundance and distribution.”

I reached out to Dr Griffiths by email and he graciously answered my questions about the sea life found growing on the Reunion flaperon after I sent him a more detailed version of the picture above.

Is it possible to identify the species of barnacle growing on the debris? 

In this case it is possible to identify this as being Lepas anserifera striata on the basis of the small row of pits across the shell, which is characteristic of that subspecies.

Can this tell us anything about where the debris might have been floating?

This is not much clue as the species has a wide global distribution in tropical and subtropical seas.

Can you say in very rough terms how long it takes the barnacles to reach this stage of growth?

I cannot accurately gauge the sizes of the largest specimens from the image but goose barnacles grow spectacularly fast e.g. 21 mm head length ( i.e. Without the supporting stalk) in 21 days cited in one paper I have at hand. I have seen very large barnacles (as long as my finger) growing on a cable known to have only been in the water for 6 weeks!

UPDATE: To clarify a point raised by commenters, I asked Dr Griffiths a follow-up question:

Is it true that barnacles can’t survive in the open ocean? Is it possible for a piece of debris floating far out to see be colonized by Lepas anserifera, or would it need to be in a coastal environment?

No, that is not the case. These goose barnacles are in fact characteristically oceanic beasts and only occur in floating objects in the open sea. Reaching the coast is in fact a death warrant for them and any that get washed up die! Interestingly they seem to know whether an object is floating, so for example are common on kelp that is uprooted and floating but never occur on the same kelp when it is attached.

Can you tell whether the barnacles in that picture are alive or dead? If alive, how long can they live after being washed up?

If you find a washed up item that is fresh (same day) the barnacles will still be opening their shells and waving around their cirri (legs) to try to feed. Obviously in a still image cannot see this. However I can see the cirri projecting from some animals. These would rot away and drop off in a few days in a tropical climate, so this wreckage has only been washed up a couple of days at most. Also crabs and other scavengers love to eat goose barnacles and will clean off most within a couple of days. There is no evidence of feeding damage or headless stalks here, so that suggests to me this wreckage was collected and photographed within a day or two of stranding.

321 thoughts on “Listening to Barnacles — UPDATED”

  1. @Victor @gysbreght

    French Lab

    WSJ reported on Aug 7

    “To confirm the piece is from Flight 370, the experts will now have to examine parts in the interior of the flaperon, find their serial numbers, and match them if possible to parts known to have been inside the Flight 370 flaperon. Investigators are also trying to match records with an identifying mark on a portion of the internal structure that would establish the flaperon’s origin, according to one of the people familiar with the investigation. …”

    I wonder if anybody here knows, which parts inside the flaperon bear a unique serial number? If there are such parts, it looks not very good, cause identifying should be no problem, but maybe some serial number leads to nowhere?

  2. Jeff,

    One more question for the barnacle professor.
    What is the maximum water depth these barnacles grow or can develop ? and what is the maximum size they can become over time.
    And how many generations of barnacles are on the flaperon, are they adults ?

    From the answers of the professor sofar I get that they can get big quickly and if the flaperon was floating around for more than a year it is likely the barnacles have reached full size or there are multiple generations of barnacles

    I dont expect the barnacles to grow without sunlight. If the barnacles family are a young generation it would strengthen the case that this flaperon came to the surface recently.

    I have a mariner back ground and have seen many ships in drydock with barnacles, what surprises me is that there is only so little marine growth on there and it looks like it is only attaching to the baren aluminium ruptures. If the flaperon was at the surface since the plane went missing I want to know where to buy this paint for my boat because this is great antifouling.

  3. CosmicAcademy Posted August 17, 2015 at 1:13 PM: “I wonder if anybody here knows, which parts inside the flaperon bear a unique serial number? ”

    I don’t know, but I am not optimistic about that. The internal parts are ribs and spars, and possibly stringers. If they are manufactured as distinct parts, having a separate ‘life’ before being assembled int a flaperon, they may have serial numbers. However, in a structure said to be made of ‘composite’ materials, I very much doubt that would be the case, except perhaps for the hinge brackets, which seem to be metal parts bolted onto the composite body, but most of those has been broken off.

  4. @Victor/Gysbreght

    I have not seen any information coming from Boeing or the NTSB directly. Do either of you have a link to that?

  5. Remember, the French will be tasking themselves with determining whether the flaperon belonged to 9M-MRO, AND whether it drifted there from a fuel-feasible portion of Inmarsat’s 7th arc.

    To those whose trust in the 7th arc is limitless, the answer to the former IS the answer to the latter: “what’s the hold-up?”, they ask.

    It is possible that the latter is being treated as a wholly separate question.

  6. @Brock

    sizes of Barnacles

    the sizes of the species there are listed for adults generally as 40 mm to 50 mm length of capitulum

    with literature

    as far as i can assess the size of the major indivuals on the flaperon right, – there is no calibration meter on the fotos – their size is roughly up to 60 mm, which would fit for a good nutritional situation

    The stalk is given as same length to the capitulum.

  7. @CA

    I scaled the capitulm size to roughly half your value based on the feet and hands of the people in the pictures. Working backwards using the Bertalannfy equation, and the approximate maximum size of the species puts the time in the water at a year or so. Quite consistent with the chronology of the event.

  8. @DennisW & @Gysbreght:

    The information about the maintenance mismatch did not come directly from Boeing or the NTSB. It was leaked through an intermediary. Nobody has spoken about this discrepancy in an official capacity.

    The NYT on Aug 5 reported the following:

    A person involved in the investigation said, however, that experts from Boeing and the National Transportation Safety Board who had seen the object, a piece of what is known as a flaperon, were not yet fully satisfied, and called for further analysis.

    Their doubts were based on a modification to the flaperon part that did not appear to exactly match what they would expect from airline maintenance records, according to the person, who was not authorized to discuss the matter publicly.

  9. @BSalvage, These are animals that live on drifting debris, so the assumption is that they’re at the top of the water column. I don’t think it’s very plausible that the flaperon could have been attached to the airframe for a long time, and then spontaneously detached–the ocean depths are a quiet place and there would be no precipitating cause for such an event.
    Very interesting to get your mariner’s perspective on the growth of marine life. I think the age of the individuals on the debris will be very closely looked at by the investigators.

  10. When I went to this site this morning I did not expect to see my comment and then on top of that for the images to cause the stir that they did. A back story. When I posted the comment I did not see it. I asked Jeff what happened. He responded that he has to approve a comment manually if the comment has more than one link. So, my comment had more than one link. I expected my comment not to be seen as is. I expected to have to make two comments—one for each link. This morning I see my original comment. Thank you, Jeff!

    I would like to thank everyone who sent images based on my comment. At first the added images had me confused. Going back and forth to compare the images was a real pain. I decided to make a print out of each image to lessen the confusion. This helped a lot. I suggest you do the same.

    Here is my take on the images:

    1. As a reference the top image on the ibtimes site has NOT been flipped. I have two reasons to believe this. One, three people in the picture are clearly right-handed. The fourth person you cannot tell. If they were left-handed that would be unexpected since the majority of people are right-handed. Two, the clincher, the lettering on the back of the person’s shirt (the one that you cannot tell if he is right or left handed) is not reversed

    2. The image at the bottom of the ibtimes has been flipped. The reason the imaged has been flipped is to match the drawing which has been partly cut off.

    3. The techly image (my image) has been flipped. The image was flipped to match the drawing below it. You will see this image again (see #5 below).

    4. My google image shows a flaperon that works on the opposite wing.

    5. Here is my take on the images on the blog-peuravion site. Starting from the top, the second image has NOT been flipped (see #1 above). The third image has been flipped to match a drawing (see #2 above). The fourth image has NOT been flipped. This is the same image in my techly image, but we see it in the non-flipped version here. The fifth drawing has been flipped to match the drawing. The image shows up in a number of sites. We see it on the ibtimes site. We see it as the third image of the blog-peuravion site.

    6. The airliners site shows a flaperon that would go on the opposite wing (as compared to the Reunion flaperon). It would be nice to have a straight ahead shot on the two ends of this flaperon. This would help in comparing the google image with the Reunion image. What we need is a nice cleaned-up (no barnacles) picture of both ends of the Reunion flaperon. Maybe the French and Boeing will provide the pictures in the near future.

    There is nothing nefarious going on with all this flipping. People are just matching the image with the drawing. So, for the conspiracy theorists on this site you can sleep tight.

    Important note: There has been talk that the airliners site image does not match up with the Reunion flaperon. In an upcoming comment I will talk about this ”problem”.

  11. Joe T,

    What exactly are you going on about? Multiple experts have confirmed that this flaperon is from a B777. What is the purpose of this discussion? Curious.

  12. Anyone plugged into / working on crowd-auditing the “that darned ocean wore/tore off the epoxied serial# plate” claim?

    Many of us have been carried away with drift analysis, buried in barnacles, or drowning in leaks – was hoping someone could be independently verifying this claim.

  13. @Jay

    “Joe T,”

    “What exactly are you going on about? Multiple experts have confirmed that this flaperon is from a B777. What is the purpose of this discussion? Curious.”

    Here is what I believe about the Reunion flaperon:

    1. The flaperon came from a 777.
    2. By the process of elimination we can say that the flaperon came from the MH370.
    3. The cherry on top will be if they find I.D. marks that say that the flaperon came from the MH370.
    4. The drawings that are shown on my links may or may not be from a B777. They is no provenance for these drawings. Let the buyer beware.
    5. One can also say that there is no provenance for the airlines image, either.

    My comment concerning the flipping may have overstated the obvious. I was just trying to clear up the confusion over the images if there was any. My ‘flipping’ comment had nothing to do about what I believe or not believe about the Reunion flaperon.

    Thank you.

  14. @Brock,

    I am not invested in the ocean wore off claim, but here is my 2 cents worth.

    I dismissed the claims of epoxy not being waterproof or dissolving or similar as laughable. It would only be possible with shoddy workmanship, lack of surface prep and the like.

    Epoxy, or more accurately, the right grade of it, is the material of choice in many GRP Boats. I for one have been for over a decade fixing my boat or affixing bits to it with epoxy. It still floats and all the glued on bits are still attached.



  15. If Zahrie Shah’s motive was suicide did it go according too plan?

    Was the In-flight entertainment system definitely transponder based, did it include a route map for passengers to watch their plane and satellite phones for passengers to make calls?

    Would an average passenger on a red-eye flight recognize a turn at IGARI if they had no route map screen and it was dark outside?

    Are oceans monitored by radar transponders after a plane flys a fairly short distance from the coast and out of secondary radar?

    Would a veteran pilot expect to be monitored by military radar when out at sea?

    If military jets had been scrambled to track down MH370, without any communication would it have been shot down?

  16. @Joe T:
    Would you please explain how exactly you come to conclusion by the process of elimination. In particular, why can it not be a different 777, or why could it not be just a standalone part that never belonged to any particular 777.

  17. @Oz

    Ron send me this link to an image where a policeman holds up one side of the flaperon. Due to insufficient resolution it is inconclusive with regards to whether or not the upper lip is hiding the 6th fastener.

    Is anybody able to find a high res version of this image? It may put the 5 vs 6 fastener question to rest. Though the other differences remain.



  18. MuOne – Yes, the modern adhesive glues and sealers are remarkably good. Add in there would have been no extreme heat due to the irrigation of sea water, and very little direct sun due to the location of the plate. It only had to be waterproof – as they all are.

  19. While we are all waiting to find out whether that flaperon came from 9M-MRO on flight MH370, my suggestion is that the only people who really need to know are the NoK, especially those who still hold out some hope of their loved ones being alive.
    For the rest of us it will actually make no difference to the success of the search IMO.
    1. If the flaperon is confirmed from MH370 then it seems drift models cannot help us to refine the search. On the contrary, especially referring to Erik van Sebille’s reverse drift model (Fig 6b in Brock’s paper), the item could have come from pretty much anywhere in the IO including current search area, NW of Australia, W coast of Indonesia, SE of Sri Lanka, Curtin Boom area, Chagos, Seychelles, just to name a few. In particular, any reverse drift models will need many more parts of the plane to be found and those details factored in to be any use in refining the search; those models assuming the current search area is correct would also need new data confirming the ISAT data to be at all informative. [Sorry to be so blunt].
    2. If the provenance of the flaperon is deemed inconclusive or worse, it is proven not to have floated from MH370, then this will be a shocking outcome but it probably won’t change the minds of those leading the current search (who are convinced they are searching in the right place).
    So what we have here is a small window of opportunity for France, possibly other countries whose citizens have been lost, possibly ICAO etc. to jump in and play a major part in the direction and management of the search. Otherwise, time is running out and unless we are very lucky this plane won’t be found for many, many years if at all.

  20. @AM2:
    I disagree.
    If the flaperon is going to be confirmed as part of MH370, any potential extension of search area could be calculated with the maximum likelihood method in the same way as Henrik Rydberg did, possibly with a refined drift model (his current model does not include wind, for instance), or versus a distribution of drift models (via a parameter, that has a probability distribution). So, within any search area we would know the distribution of probabilities to find an airplane there. So, that is not a search area directly influenced by the drift model, but at least a map of priorities within a search area, preselected by other means (because of fuel capacity, the ping closeness e t.c.)

  21. In case of an opposite outcome it will not give any additional information, until proven it was planted. If it was in fact planted, it was probably in order to misinform. However, it would be strange to plant it in Reunion, where the order of scrutiny is much higher than in Mauritius or Madagascar because of qualifications and experiance of French team.

  22. MuOne,

    Like I said before I would imagine Boeing would make the plate “in like Flynn” on the flaperon in the proactive anticipation of a water landing or such. I’m not exactly buying the saltwater corrosion idea either but who knows. The plate would have been affixed by Boeing not MAS, right? MAS would have put their maintenance seal after work was done. Questions are how did the plate come off and as Jeff says what work was done or wasn’t done that perhaps should have been. I wonder if this flaperon, if from MH-370, was the same side wing that work was done on after the minor wing incident in Shanghai? Maybe the flaperon itself was “Shanghaied.”

  23. Susie Crowe,

    As far as I understand the IFE depends on a satcom link, via Classic Aero. That can be disabled from the cockpit, either through the AES or FMS, I am not sure technically which one. I did research on the IFE way back on Duncan Steel. It is set up independently due to its miles and miles of wiring and arcing problems that can arise from that mileage of wiring. It responds 90 seconds or so after the AES is back on if I have that correct. Supposedly the IFE went out circa the time that all the comm went out so I would say no the passengers would not have seen the IGARI turn, not on the IFE monitor anyway that plays Airshow or moving map, unless they had tablets but I don’t know how that technically works if the IFE is off or if that depneds on Wi-Fi or whatever.

    There were early reports, believe it or not, that jets were scrambled in the SCS and in the Straits. They were redacted. They were never clear on that nor were they clear on if the saw the traversing in real time and let it slide due to it’s non-hostile appearance to them.

  24. @alex

    “Would you please explain how exactly you come to conclusion by the process of elimination. In particular, why can it not be a different 777, or why could it not be just a standalone part that never belonged to any particular 777.”

    Boeing is locating every 777 flaperon in existence. I pretty sure a representative from Boeing is inspecting in person every 777 flaperon out there. A phone call will not suffice. Knowing Boeing when a flaperon is taken off an airplane the part is shipped back to Boeing for their inspection—big time. The flaperon is not recycled. Thus the odds of having a “lost” flaperon is slim and none. You can trust Boeing to account for every flaperon.

    If memory serves me correctly there have been five clashes of 777 including the MH370. Every clash has been accounted for except the MH370 clash.

    So, if Boeing has accounted for EVERY 777 flaperon including the flaperons from the four clashed 777s and they still have one flaperon missing then through the process of elimination the Reunion flaperon is the missing flaperon. Since the MH370 has not been accounted for we can connect the Reunion flaperon to the MH370.

    Follow the path: ALL flaperons have been accounted for EXCEPT ONE>MH370 has not been accounted for>a flaperon has been found on Reunion Island>the Reunion flaperon came from a 777>MH370 is a 777>by the process of elimination the Reunion flaperon came from MH370.

    It would be nice if one could found I.D. marks on/in the Reunion flaperon that would show that the Reunion flaperon was from MH370. If the I.D. marks cannot do this then we have to use the process of elimination. A lot of people would not like this. But I would like this.

  25. @Alex
    I think some expert oceanographers have already said that this find can’t help refine or alter the search area (but I don’t have refs to hand), however some have worked from the view that the current area is correct, which is still in doubt IMO.
    As to what motive or sense there might be to planting it – I prefer to wait rather than speculate any further.

  26. @Cheryl
    I didn’t mean to imply I thought the plane could have been shot down only curious what sop would be if this plane was unable and did not respond. Hard to grasp the performance of that plane being dubbed “non-hostile” at that point.

    Almost impossible if this Captain was in control of his plane and he had a plan that he would have anticipated what a farce the secondary and primary radar response

    Keep questioning if the comms shut down and that turn at IGARI were related because of the passengersI

  27. @Am2:
    I am talking about prioritizing work within search area, not selecting one versus another one. Still could save money by finding earlier
    @Joe T.:
    How do you know this process of elimination is actually used exactly like that? Any reference? Are you just guessing because you beleive it should be like that? Or do you know for sure?

  28. Susie Crowe,

    Don’t forget Malaysia does not have a 911 mentality, and apparently there was a lot of asleep at the switch going on that night, or the non-hostile terminology is a CYA move because they flat out missed it or let it go or visualized it on a radar time delay.

  29. @alex

    “How do you know this process of elimination is actually used exactly like that? Any reference? Are you just guessing because you beleive it should be like that? Or do you know for sure?”

    I used two methods in determining if the process of elimination is possible:

    1. Boeing build flaperons for 777s. People expect Boeing to know where their flaperons can be located. Boeing will not disappoint. Boeing will locate every fliperon except for the ones they cannot—the ones on the MH370.

    Note: Alex, if method #1 does not meet with your approval I suggest you contact Boeing. They should be able to convince you that they can locate their own flaperons.

    2. As for a reference I consult my Ouija board. People who listen to the Coast-to-Coast radio show swear by it. Everything on the radio show is true—really!!!!!

  30. I don’t know, Joe. There are no counterfeit airplane parts? A flaperon seems like a part well-positioned for hangar rash damage, and compared to other critical parts, among the easiest to counterfeit. That, and the MH17 shooters have declined to hand over the nearly identical flaperon. So there are no fewer than two missing right flaperons. I still believe this is the one from 9M-MRO, but aren’t you being presumptuous?

    My next question, to all, is this: have we conclusively determined that the flaperon drifted, rather than fell there? Obviously, that would involve abandoning either the ISAT data or the fuel data, but curiously we are once again faced with a complete absence of more debris, despite looking in the “right” place now instead of over on an Indonesian beach.

    I also take issue with re-using any drift models created before this debris was found. From a probability perspective, we were essentially treating the drift models as a “fair die” with each endpoint having some random probability. Now, like a coin that’s only ever landed heads, we have 100% of the found debris in one place. That would suggest that either the real distribution coincidentally only puts one object near Reunion, the sample hasn’t played out yet, or that the distribution isn’t really so random (like the coin that only lands heads.) Except that it’s been 17 months now.

    My prediction at the moment is that the lack of any companion debris, coupled with the lack of a part confirmation from the French, coupled with a lack of accounting of MH17’s parts by the Russians, coupled finally with the Malaysians’ rush to pin this part on MH370, will become a glaring issue in this investigation. If years go by with no more debris, we are right back where we started and the appearance of the flaperon will be as mysterious as the disappearance of the rest of the plane.

  31. Found another drift study worth including in any comparative analysis: Deltares (Dr. Fedor Baart, et al).

    Fed by global HYCOM data, it consisted of two simulation runs: one starting at each of the northern and southern segments of the “defined search area”. It then shows a nifty animation of how debris might drift over the ensuing months. (You can get to the original animation by following the link embedded in the pdf linked to at the bottom.)

    The advantage of this model is that, unlike Sebille, it seems to model the likelihood of “catching” on a shore. Note the white dots peppering WA shores by late 2014.

    But here’s the weird thing: the “southern” start point (white dots) is at 35s – near the NORTHERN boundary of the ATSB fuel limit (33.5s). The fuel-feasible region runs fron 33.5s to 38.3s – the white dot thus represents essentially a HYCOM data-indicated UPPER BOUND on Réunion feasibility from ANYWHERE in the performance-bounded 7th arc. The model estimates this feasibility to be ZERO.

    Rydberg’s conditional analysis of Sebille’s data notwithstanding, Sebille would himself, I think, agree that Réunion rules out the ATSB’s entire fuel-feasible region: he was quoted by the NYT as saying Réunion was feasible from arc7 – but only if MH370 impacted NW (his description) of Australia. The 7th arc at 33s is NOT NW of Australia.

    The ATSB says MH370 could not have flown that slow, and still reached that far to the NE (here we go again…) And absent path circuity near Sumatra, impact points that far NE also fail the BFOs quite miserably (here we go again…)

    Which leaves absolutely no place to impact on the 7th arc.

  32. @Alex, if chaos theory explains why weather forecasting is non-predictive more than 7 days out, what do you think is the likelihood of any drift model (or even an aggregation of the models) giving us location-specific or even approximate information about the point of origin of a piece of debris 16 months earlier?

    Here’s how CSIRO describes their challenge in trying to model drift:

    “The ocean is vast and conditions are continuously changing. This area is known for strong winds, large waves and turbulent eddies. Debris can potentially travel up to 50 kilometres a day. We are tracking eddies in the Indian Ocean, around the area of the search, which are about 100 kilometres wide.”

    This suggests that any inaccuracy in assumptions or data inputs would lead to significant errors in results, the effects of which would be magnified over time. The models also do not appear to take into account a factor I touched upon earlier, and which to my knowledge has not been modeled at all: the transition from looping in a giant gyre to actually washing ashore. Just from eyeballing the various models, it seems that Reunion Island is as likely a place as any in the Southern Indian Ocean for debris to make landfall, regardless of where it entered the water, but who can make even an educated guess without gross over-fitting?

    In the case of AF 447, reverse drift modeling was of only limited help in locating the wreckage, even though the floating debris was found within a few days after the crash.

    If Malaysia, Australia and China are meeting to “refine” the search based in any significant part on reverse drift modeling the flaperon, I think it’s a fool’s errand. The only drift modeling with any real hope of helping to locate the wreckage would be done with reference to the surface debris spotted by satellite in March 2014.

    But if the decision is to continue this increasingly wasteful search, it seems to me that, as with AF447, completing and/or going back over the most likely areas of the 7th arc has more potential to be productive than any reverse drift analysis. The Inmarsat data dwarfs all other information released so far in terms of its power to resolve possible locations.

  33. @Brock,
    “Which leaves no place to impact on the 7th arc”

    This statement seems to infer that you attach the same or greater probability to the drift models being able to determine a start point than you do on the BTO/BFO numbers, and fuel duration estimates. Implausible!

    I perfer the comment from Bruce Lamon last sentence…. The Inmarsat data dwarfs all,other information released so far in terms of its power to resolve possible locations.

    I think you have forgotten the independent lwork and the analysis of many able and skilled people, who all conclude at the impact point is somewhere close to the 7th arc, and probably between 34 and 37 deg S. That must attract the highest probability.

    And, while I’m at it, forget the controlled ditching. There is no evidence to suggest that this occurred. The flaperon damage, in spite of the rash of media commentaries, is no evidence. A flaperon, in any flight scenario, trails in line with the airfoil. It is not commanded downwards, although it does trail downward slightly when flaps are lowered. It is certainly not the lowest point of the aircraft in any landing configuration. The trailing edge damage could not be created by “dragging in the water”.

  34. Flitzer-Flyer posted August 18, 2015 at 5:42 AM: “And, while I’m at it, forget the controlled ditching. There is no evidence to suggest that this occurred. ”

    You forget that the underwater search has covered the area close to the 7th arc, and nothing has been found on the bottom of the ocean.

  35. @Joe T:
    Mighty Ouija board gives you power to get a direct answer. You do not need to know how Boeing deals with old parts. You can just ask the board where the wreckage of mh370 is. If I were you I would not spend the time on this board. Ouija board gives a much better prospective.
    @Bruce Lamon:
    Drift model like Sebille model allows you to get probability distributions of a single debri to be located here or there after/before certain time period. That is not exact location because of turbulence and eddies, however, if the model is accurate the probability distribution is correct. This allows you to create a pdf map of the area. That is what Henrik Rydberg did. Are you trying to say the model cannot be used for what it is intended?
    What CSIRO meant is that if you are trying to predict the search area, you would find too large area, that already includes the current search area found by other means. So, current search area is a subset of what Sebille drift model could provide. However, within the current search area Sebille model (or another drift model including wind) could provide you a tool to create pdf of the crash point within the area.

  36. @Gysbreght:
    So far onle 60000 km^2 have been searched. That corresponds to ~90% of probability to find the wreckage. The rest of extended area (120000 km^2) has another 7% of probability. Only 3% are not covered by extended area.

  37. @dennisw

    Barnacle size

    Thanks great idea to use human body parts as scale and of course the Bertalannfy equation. Now i could guess from one foto with a hand beside the seals a pretty precise figure for the lengths of the seals, which might be 6 by 8 inches. Then if you look at the bigger Barnacles you will find some in the neighborhood that compare to the smalll side of the seal rectangle by a ratio of 3.2 to 2.8 which would lead to a capitulum size of 45 to 52 mm. At that point i would rate them with some reservation until further pathologic analyses as adult Barnacles and a 15 month ocean drift would be completely understandable.


    there are some Barnacles visible that are attached to the stalks of senior individuals , which colonized the flaperon some months before. Maybe there are even some small individuals attaches to the stalks of the second generation ones. I really dont like to say that, but i think its not realisitic to see this flaperon planted at Reunion Island.

  38. “The trailing edge damage could not be created by “dragging in the water”.”

    It seems to me the flaperon trailing edge damage might have been caused by hitting something rocky like a reef of an atoll, or maybe some rocky road during a landing attempt.

  39. @Bruce Lamon, With reference to the difficulty in locating the impact spot from back-drifting debris found 16 months later, I would like to draw your attention to this image from the AF447 final report:
    Here we see the location mapped of all the debris retrieved from AF447, a process which was completed within three weeks (and most of it was found within two weeks). In that time it had spread out more or less randomly to a blob 130 nautical miles across, the center of which had translated (moved) 85 miles northward from the impact point.
    Figure 6 in the ATSB’s June report shows where one drift model projects the debris spreading by April 29, 2014 (day 52). The blob is 1400 nautical miles across and has translated approximately 500 nautical miles from the 7th arc.
    My take-home from all this is that although most discussion has been focussed on the translational aspect of debris dispersion–where is the current going to take it?–the random outward migration should be dominant by at least a two-fold factor. In other words, good luck back-drifting debris after 500 days at sea.
    To put it another way, a first-order approximation of the debris field’s fate can be arrived at by taking the ATSB’s early drift model and multiplying it by ten: a debris field that is 14,000 miles across and has translated 5,000 miles.

  40. @alex, Thanks. Those numbers may have some validity but in airlandseaman’s case seem to be based primarily on gut instinct (earlier, before the area was searched in vain, he said that he was 99% sure the debris would be found within 5 nm of the 7th arc) and in Truss’ case we haven’t been shown any calculations. Based on Brock’s calculations, the seabed search has already covered 99% of the probability distribution:

  41. @jeffwise:

    That is an interesting work, thanks a lot. However, it relies on a number of parameters (even if we assume all equations on page 3 are well known, for deceleration, turn rate, horizontal position, vertical velocity and altitude; the model contains also some numeric parameters, like a(0), b(0), x(0), i(0), j(0), z(0) and some other coefficients). If you just change those parameters a little bit, that will change the outcome. Also, my impression is Brock used the simulation along the whole 7th arc. Reality is the search area contains only small portion of 7th arc along it, based on possible speed and amount of fuel. And if it is 99% for the whole arc, it could very well be 97% for the search area that is a much smaller portion of 7th arc.
    Anyway, it is very interesting if Brock used a third party package for simulation, or if it was his own implementation from scratch, and I wonder where he took the equations and numerical coefficients as well as values of boundary conditions

  42. @Jeff

    I struggle with the notion of converting ISAT data into a terminal location probability distribution. Earlier someone posted a question of what data you would be most anxious to get from the authorities. I made a flippant reply. (As Victor pointed out, I am prone to do that.) In reality, what I would really like to have is ISAT and truth data (GPS+inertial) from a dozen or so flights in the Malay and Indian Ocean region to “play around” with. I would really like to be able to characterize the accuracy one might expect from the BTO/BFO analytics.

  43. @DennisW and @alex, Excellent points. Meanwhile, it’s worth noting that even the most ardent advocates of the current SIO search consider the probability map to have been 90 percent searched out. While not hopeless, I’d call that worrying, and think it should be motivating all interested parties to think about plan B, rather than simply planning to declare defeat, as Australia has previously said it would do. (Though the flaperon find may change their calculus.)

  44. @Gysbreght,

    Au contraire, I have not forgotten that nothing has been found on the bottom of the ocean. Actually that is more likely to confirm that the aircraft did not arrive there in one piece after a controlled ditching.

    More likely a million pieces after a high speed impact, with flaperon detaching due to aeroelastic flutter as the aircraft accelerated downward through 600 knots or more.

    What was the smallest size detectable? Something like a metre cube. There wouldn’t be many bits that size left after impact. Floating bits widely dispersed in Gyre.

  45. Since nothing has been found within the original search width of 50 NMi straddled about the 7th arc, the theory of an uncontrolled descent after double flame-out goes out of the window, and with it the probabilities cited above, the IG’s fixation on an immutable autopilot mode, and the ATSB’s AP-constrained paths. We are left with the data error optimized paths, and that shifts the probabilities further north-east along the 7th arc.

  46. Extended search area is about 100 km wide, original search area is about 50 km wide. That is definitely less than 50 nm

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