French Report: Investigators Can’t Link Reunion Flaperon to MH370

I am grateful to reader @AM2, who early this morning alerted us to a report in the French website stating that investigors who have been examining the flaperon found on Reunion have been unable to find any evidence linking it to MH370. Soon after, reader @Jay provided the translation below, which I’ve tweaked and edited using my high-school French and some online dictionaries. Thanks to both of you (and to Brock for his translation help)! Any corrections or suggestions from people who actually know the language would be very gratefully received.

MH370: At Balma, the Technical Investigation is Complete 

The Toulouse experts of the Directorate General of Armaments have finished the survey of the flaperon found on Reunion. Nothing permits it to be 100% certified as belonging to MH370!

In Balma, near Toulouse, technical analysis of of the wing flaperon believed to belong to the Malaysia Airlines Boeing has ended. The Toulouse engineers have submitted their findings to the Paris Prosecutor’s Office, which is in charge of the judicial inquiry. At the moment none of their observations have been leaked. “The investigation team headed by the French to consider the flaperon concluded the first phase of its inspection work,” the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) announced in Sydney.

Circumstantial evidence

“French authorities will, in consultation with Malaysia, report on progress in due course,” added the ATSB. Indeed, the judicial authorities remain silent and refuse to comment. According to our information, the experts have found no compelling technical element that would certify 100% that this piece belongs to flight MH370. “The expert conclusions are only the technical part of the criminal investigation, which is still going on,” so the case cannot be considered closed. For now all that is certain is that the flaperon, which was transferred from the island of Reunion to Toulouse on August 5, corresponds to a moving part of a wing of the Boeing 777. A representative of the American manufacturer Boeing quickly confirmed that after arriving at the site of the DGA Aeronautical Technical Center in Balma. If the deputy prosecutor of the Republic of Paris has stated that there was a “very strong supposition” that the piece belonged to the plane of flight MH370, which disappeared 18 months ago, that is based on circumstantial evidence.

First, the piece belongs to the aircraft model corresponding to that of Malaysia Airlines, a Boeing 777. In addition, no other aircraft of this type except that of the Malaysian company were reported missing.

Also, the trajectory of the wing piece that ran aground on a beach in Reunion matches the sea currents that link the search area of ​​the wreckage of the plane to the French overseas department. Finally, the shells found attached to the flaperon belong to a species endemic to the southern Indian Ocean where the unit is believed to have disappeared.

According to a Toulouse aeronautics expert who requested anonymity, the element of the wing would not have floated for several months at the water’s surface but would have drifted underwater a few meters deep. According to Jean-Paul Troadec, former chairman of the Bureau of Investigation and Analysis (BEA), the state of flaperon, even if it is not intact, indicates that there was no violent impact with the ocean surface. “If this had been the case with the MH370, one would expect much smaller debris than a flaperon,” said the expert.


A couple of observations from me, JW:

  1. I find it odd that a piece of random debris would happen to have exactly neutral buoyancy, as floating for months just below the ocean surface would require. Unless it was tethered…
  2. Reader @Jay raises the question: “What about the maintenance seal that Malaysia claimed 100% linked the part to MH370?” Likewise, no mention is made of the discrepencies that Boeing and NTSB officials reportedly found between the flaperon and Malaysia Airlines maintenance records, according to the New York Times.  Hopefully the French will soon issue a report clearing up these issues.



258 thoughts on “French Report: Investigators Can’t Link Reunion Flaperon to MH370”

  1. @Susie
    my shortcut points only to level of unknown danger, with expected level of reaction; their steps seems like they may know it is not danger; another variable is pilot, where I dont expect anything bad from him

  2. @falken
    Thank you falken, I was only using your term, definitely not trying to imply any thoughts you had about it and did not think you meant it was a perceived threat

  3. @CliffG

    noone went around Indonesia and turned SE with intention to ditch the plane, if there was a ditching (and there is a good possibility there was) it was not preplanned, rather forced

  4. The Malaysian “government” knew what was happening early on.
    Political demands were made and a response was awaited.
    While negotiations were taking place it would not have been necessary to alert SAR.
    There was no need at that stage to take any action other than to allow the world to think MH370 was on it way to its destination.
    The plan was for the captain to fly MH370 out of the Strait of Malacca [out of Malaysian radar contact] into the Andaman Sea, then turn the power back on to receive confirmation the demands had been agreed to.
    The plane would then proceed to Banda Aceh and land to allow the passengers to be repatriated.
    In the event confirmation was not received at that point the intention was to come back to port through a large arc in the form of a low speed holding pattern off the southern coast of Indonesia in close proximity to suitable island landing sites while the negotiations continued.
    Possible landing sites included Christmas Island with the default final landing strip being Bandung airport in West Java.
    There was no suggestion of suicide in the plan which was put in place weeks before.

  5. plausible, but not something malaysian government could hide as those frequencies are listened

  6. My understanding is that at no stage was any communication made by the negotiators in Malaysia with the plane and there was radio silence from the plane.

  7. “The Malaysian “government” knew what was happening early on.
    Political demands were made and a response was awaited.
    While negotiations were taking place it would not have been necessary to alert SAR.”

    so who made these demands and how if no communication from the plane was made?

  8. The appearance of closure is misleading: my sense is that the French technicians came to a far more reserved conclusion, but that the meddlesome French judiciary (prosecutor’s office) overseeing the investigation and having final jurisdiction over public announcements had less tolerance for professional ambiguity and non-noncommittal analysis, perhaps feeling that French national pride was at stake; so eventually the infamous pronouncement was made, so curiously devoid of explanation, that the part belongs to MH 370.

    The part “must” belong to the plane because no other 777 is missing. But a scrapped part need not involve the loss of a plane at all. That would explain why the ID plate was missing: it was removed to indicate that the part had been removed from service or potential service.

    The expense of storage and special disposal processing could be saved by the simple expedient of dumping the part, along with tons of other junk, into the open ocean — a common if illegal practice that no one would wish to bring to the attention of the authorities, merely to clear up a misapprehension.

    Eventually someone among the technical staff will talk, even at the risk of career problems, or else the technical report will be quietly released after a period during which the subject will have lapsed into obscurity, particularly inasmuch as the media considers the official pronouncement by French prosecutors (not scientists) to be authoritative.

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