Text of French Prosecutor’s Announcement Confirming Flaperon Link to MH370

Florence de Changy has provided me with the text of the announcement released today, September 3, 2015:

Dans le cadre de l’information judiciaire relative à la disparition du vol MH 370 de la Malaysia Airlines le 8 mars 2014, les opérations d’expertises initiées le 5 août 2015, suite à la découverte du flaperon à La Réunion le 29 juillet 2015, ont permis de relever -au moyen d’un endoscope- trois numéros à l’intérieur du flaperon.

Il est apparu que ces trois numéros pouvaient correspondre à la référence de la fabrication de pièces confiée en sous-traitance par la société Boeing à la société Airbus Defense and Space (ADS-SAU), sise à Séville (ESPAGNE).

Ce jour, sur commission rogatoire internationale auprès des autorités judiciaires espagnoles, le magistrat instructeur -assisté de l’expert en aéronautique missionné-, s’estrendu à Séville aux fins de recueillir toutes données utiles.

La communication immédiate des données relatives aux commandes et fabrication des pièces de l’aéronef, explicitée par l’audition d’un technicien de la société ADS-SAU, permet d’associer formellement l’un des trois numéros relevés à l’intérieur du flaperon au numéro de série du flaperon du boeing 777 du vol MH 370.

Ainsi, il est aujourd’hui possible d’affirmer avec certitude que le flaperon découvert à La Réunion le 29 juillet 2015 correspond à celui du vol MH 370.

Translation after the jump. Thanks to @Ghysbreght for the translation help.


As part of the judicial investigation into the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight MH 370 on March 8, 2014, the expert assessment that began on August 5, 2015, following the discovery of the flaperon in Reunion July 29, 2015, has allowed the identifcation–by means of an endoscope–of three numbers inside the flaperon.

It appeared that these three numbers could correspond to reference parts manufactured by a subcontractor to Boeing, Airbus Defence and Space (ADS-SAU), located in Seville (Spain).

Today, on an international letter rogatory to the Spanish judicial authorities, the French prosecutor–assisted by the expert of the aeronautical mission–traveled to Seville in order to collect all necessary data.

Immediate communication of data on orders and manufacture of the parts of the aircraft, clarified by an ADS-SAU technician at a hearing, allows one of the three numbers found within the flaperon to be formally associated with the serial number of the flaperon of the Boeing 777 of flight MH 370.

Thus, it is now possible to state with certainty that the flaperon discovered on Reunion Island on July 29, 2015, corresponds to that of flight MH 370.


67 thoughts on “Text of French Prosecutor’s Announcement Confirming Flaperon Link to MH370”

  1. Me thinks we are duped again…..of course all is copacetic here right? Fires happen, things come unglued, people go on vacation, how did they manage to release such a magnitude of detailed information in only a month and a half????

    Kudos to whomever for the ingenuity of keeping those starved for information on the longest possible stringer before cutting us loose

  2. Europe doesn’t use A/C. Everyone takes a month vacation during the hottest part of the year. Translate.google.com:

    As part of the judicial investigation into the disappearance of flight MH 370 Malaysia Airlines in March 8, 2014, the expertise operations initiated August 5, 2015, following the discovery of the flaperon in Reunion July 29, 2015, helped by a rise -at endoscope- three numbers inside the flaperon.

    It appeared that these three numbers could match the reference parts manufacturing entrusted subcontracted by Boeing to Airbus Defence and Space Company (ADS-SAU), located in Seville (Spain).

    That day, on international letters rogatory to the Spanish judicial authorities, the investigating judge -assisté expert missionné- aeronautics, is estrendu in Seville in order to collect all necessary data.

    Immediate communication of data on orders and manufacture of the parts of the aircraft, made explicit by the hearing of a technician ADS-SAU company allows to formally associate one of the three issues raised within the Flaperon the serial number of the flaperon Boeing 777 flight MH 370.

    Thus, it is now possible to state with certainty that the flaperon discovered in Reunion July 29, 2015 corresponds to the flight MH 370.

  3. So where did the other two numbers come from? Perhaps MAS maintenance replaced two parts without properly recording their respective S/N’s?

    Who now has the responsibility for determining why the flaperon was separated from the rest of the wing and what caused the tail portion of the flaperon to be ripped away from the portion found?

  4. Copy of additional article on reddit (I don’t have the link):

    ‘Thursday the families of the 4 French citizens missing and presumed dead for 17 months were received by the antiterrorist judge in charge of the French investigation, Antoine Gaudino, and the assigned technical aeronautics expert, Francois Grangier.
    After a rumour was spread the families asked about traces of explosives found on the part but no such traces were identified according to the expert. He did however consider that the manner in which the part was “twisted” suggested a landing at sea rather than a crash. In the case of the crash of the Germanwings plane the largest debris was about 30 cm in size, while the size of the flaperon was amost 2 m.
    Also two things were learned from the biomarine analysis of the goose barnacles, the small shell fish attached to the flaperon. First the triple 7 wing part was in the water for at least a year. Second the flaperon came from temperate waters because these shell fish can’t survive at more than 18 degrees C. Buoyancy studies on the flaperon confirmed that the debris remained slightly under the surface of the water. These observations will allow the drift model of the path followed by the object across the Indian Ocean to be refined.
    French President, Francois Hollande will receive the 2 families of the 4 French citizens who were on board flight MH370, Friday September 4 at noon.’

  5. It still could be a “Throw Down Part”. If Iran, or Russia have the complete plane I still maintain it’s a simple matter to pull molds off the part, stick it in a cargo plane, drop it in the ocean and let it float.

    Back home (wherever that is) the new part is already back on 370 by the time the throw down guys get back home.

    If it’s down there, lets find it, but if not we better watch our radar screens for a 777 with a fishy looking transponder signal, it could be carrying a Iranian nuke.


  6. @Victor, that’s an extremely important distinction and calls more than ever for a barnacle expert. As Prof. Herbig from Cologne said, these barnacles are very territorial and different sub-species dwell in specific latitudes. Thus the drift models could be matched to the barnacles.
    when will we get an official report about the French findings?

  7. @Dave Nettles

    I’m embarrassed for you and your boogeyman theory. That website in your sig pretty much screams “I should never be taken seriously!” Why not just say the devil did it?

  8. Even if the flaperon first hit water around S37 and it was too cold for the barnacles to colonize, the flaperon could have drifted north to warmer waters for 4 months and still have had a year for these Goose Barnacles to mature.

  9. ONE of THREE numbers matches?! I don’t know anything about maintenance records or aviation so maybe that’s significant in those fields but this sounds like a huge stretch, if not a false result being called definitive.

  10. @Lauren

    Colonization of Flaperon after 4 months

    1) There might be other Barnacle species living in the cold water of the south waters currents that would have predominantly colonized the flaperon before the species anserifera had the chance to.

    2) winter season was at the doorstep and winter predominant during the first 6 months period. The flaperon would have moved with the cold west australian current then. That would have ben a very close thing if the flap found an anserifera barnacle during maximum winter season in july 2014. Maybe this happened. But i have reasonable doubt it did.

    Together with the other evidence : most probably ditching, and drift model of GEOMAR it seems that all SIO projections should be buried now! Also the SAT data are once again called into question.

  11. @Cosmic Academy, agree with you re: barnacle colonisation. The barnacles which attach themselves first probably take the lion’s share of the space. If there are no cool loving barnacles on the flap it probably never was in the SIO. If I understood Prof. Herbig correctly the cool loving barnacles don’t die in warmer water. We would need to confirm that, though.

  12. If they had three serial numbers, then they should have been able to match THREE serial numbers, not just one!
    It will be interesting to see what comes out in the wash with this next saga….
    Sounds just like another wild bit of speculation open to all kinds interpretation.
    The incompetence shown by the French over this whole investigation is not much better than the Malaysians. Unbelievable….

  13. So the same company that said they couldn’t identify it a week ago now say they can? What about the plate with the serial number that wasnt on the flaperon when it was found? Does anyone know what they look like? Can they easily be removed (i.e. jarred loose from a controlled impact with the ocean)? Do the contact points of said plate show evidence of it being ripped off or does it look like it was never there in the first place?

  14. From the le Monde article Victor posted (via Google translate):

    “Flaperon buoyancy studies have meanwhile confirmed that the debris was kept slightly below the surface of the sea.”

    I still think this actually makes sense, being persuaded by the dynamics described in the PPrune comment Gysbreght cited:

    “A heavy object with only a fraction percent buoyancy…when subjected to heavy swell will spend most of its time completely submerged…there is only a small force bringing it back to the surface, but once it breaks surface large forces accelerate it downwards again.”

    But regardless, the French seem to think the part floated underwater. This means we need to see CSIRO’s results with wind impacts set to zero.

  15. If I am not mistaken NOAA hosts daily satellite images of the Sea Surface Temperature (SST). It could be helpful in determining threshold latitude by comparing against 18C, but it is not that simple task due to its seasonal variations.

  16. Brock,

    You are forgetting that currents in the near-surface layer are also affected by wind. Besides the flaperon would be subjected to waves and Stokes’ drift. CSIRO will not help.

  17. @Brock, “slightly below” or maybe also “mostly slightly below” might make sense.
    What has been the bone of contention was the alleged statement of the anonymous expert in the La Depeche article that the flap traveled most of the time several meters below the ocean’s surface. That seemed to be impossible unless the piece was held down by something. The quotation might’ve been wildly inaccurate.

  18. @Oleksandr: the only relevant refinement for wind should be for the DIFFERENCE between actual winds and those affecting the marker drift to which their model was calibrated for currents (and thus already implicit in that component of modeled drift).

    On top of which, we’re now debating a wind effect that is surely tiny when compared to that affecting objects on TOP of the ocean surface, and thus able to catch wind directly.

    Wave impacts / Stokes drift (which 10 seconds of research told me to combine, the latter being a fancy name for the former) WERE modeled by CSIRO. Net impact was immaterial.

    We need a 0%-of-wind version from CSIRO to fully understand the impact of this assumption on their results – and to make it comparable to other reverse drift results (Adrift, Geomar) which exclude wind.

  19. @Oleksandr

    NOAA temperature sensors

    But pse mind, its not an average thing. If you have only one day colder than 18 degree all barnacles of the species anserifera will have gone for the rest of the year, no matter what the temperatures are that follow. So if you use that capacity you must look for a spot that will never be colder than 18 degrees.

    I doubt that anybody will find such a spot south of 30 degrees in the cold winter waters in the cold west australian current.

    Somebody mentioned that there is the warm Leuwin current on the way, but if the flaperon was caught by this maximum 50 miles broadth stream , it would have drifted southeast, to the beaches of australia.

  20. it seems all the time that somebody is discovering something slice by slice using “to improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often”; and there are rumors today that Russins are entering Syria in parallel with military parade in China; quite lot of things together; no surprise it can spin up mind…

  21. @Brock
    “the French seem to think the part floated underwater. This means we need to see CSIRO’s results with wind impacts set to zero.” Yes, for sure we do and quite a lot more detail about how the various drift models were constructed (assumptions, constraints etc.). At the moment I think that Erik van Sebille’s model (6b in your comparison paper) is the most informative so far but there are still aspects of this one that need clarifying: for the two “likely sources” (your arrows) in what directions (by which currents) could debris have drifted from there (particularly from Chagos which is relatively close)?; does Erik have the 14 and 12 mth graphics available? Depending on the barnacle experts’ advice and seasonal water temperatures, perhaps the high probability (red) areas off Exmouth, Aus and N of that towards Indonesia could still be viable?
    With GEOMAR’s model we need a lot more information – some aspects are ambiguous (to me anyway).
    Do you or does anyone have more detailed information on the models please? Actually, a detailed update of your comparison paper would be great.

  22. Brock,

    Most of the large-scale ocean circulation models do not resolve upper layer of 1 m thickness or so. It does not make sense due to waves and a plenty of other sub-scale near-surface effects, which in this case have a significant impact. Currents at 0.1 m below the surface and at 10 m depth are very different. Take, for example, wave breaking. It is governed by wind conditions and it would greatly affect the flaperon dynamics.

    With regard to CSIRO vs Adrift, Delft, Geomar etc: I think it is more academic exercise. Probably it will help to elucidate the impact of wind, but I do not see how this will help to find the origin.

  23. CosmicAcademy,

    Re: “So if you use that capacity you must look for a spot that will never be colder than 18 degrees. ”

    No. The flaperon was not anchored. It was floating. As long as ambient seawater temperature exceeded 18C, there was no problem for barnacles to survive. In other words it does not matter if water temperature dropped to 10C in the place where the flaperon was 3 months ago, for example.

    Also, I doubt that all the barnacles “will have gone for the rest of the year” if temperature drops to 17.5C for a few hours.

  24. Is aerodynamic flutter beginning to look very shaky?

    Can we assume the marine biologists are still at it? If there are no cold water barnacles on it as well it’s devastating for the search effort.

  25. The water temperature, according to http://www.ssec.wisc.edu/data/sst/ , was warmer than 18 degrees everywhere on the surface where the flaperon could be during the year, especially in the winter (the coldest months are june through august). However, deep in the water it was much colder. That is why they say it was floating not too deep in the ocean.

  26. OOps. Especially in summer, December through February, but in winter as well (june through august)

  27. @oleksandr sounds like you have a little more than a classroom education in what you have to say….you, i want to listen to in future comments….

  28. I’m posting this on behalf of a friend who has a very good point that seems to have been overlooked. You’ll need to stop and think about this for a minute to understand:

    Hang on a minute. Something’s wrong with this scenario.

    Boeing is the culminating link in the final assembly of an 777-2H6-ER. Boeing sources 1000’s of parts from 100’s of suppliers. Are we to believe that when it makes a plane it sends a note to each supplier and tells them that they used their part XYZ to make plane ABC? Now we are to believe that the supplier is the only one able to identify the part, despite the fact that it must have been Boeing who passed this information on in the first place – how else would the supplier know? And we are also supposed to believe that Boeing now doesn’t know what the supplier knows.

    Beam me up Scotty!

  29. @Oleksandr

    Problem 1) If <18 degree for some time before, there would be no living individuals to produce offspring.

    Problem 2) There are many species of G.B. that love even much colder temperatures. If the plane landed in the SIO, it would have been colonized by these ones, would it not?

  30. “… international letter rogatory to the Spanish judicial authorities …”

    Really? Is that how the French conduct what should be a straightforward air accident investigation? A letter rogatory is like a subpoena – you reply to it as necessary, but it creates an atmosphere of confrontation and conflict, not cooperation.

    The headline should be “French reconfirm flaperon link to MH370”, giving equal weight to the French and Malaysian findings.

  31. Here’s some thoughts: If that flaperon was dropped from a fairly high altitude would it lead tail first, (slimmest profile) or front first, (most aerodynamic)?

    In looking over the pictures of several of the other crashed 777’s it looks like a low angle crash-landing yields the type of damage on the trailing edge as on the one from Reunion Island.

    It looks like what happens is the landing fails first, causing engine contact with the ground, thus causing the engine mount to fail, forcing the engine back into the flaperon. But would this be consistent with a water crash?


  32. @Dave
    I’d say the motor would have no option but to pivot up backwards and smack into the flaperon, but if that were the case, where is the damage underneath the flaperon?
    There is damage on top, which has really puzzled me.
    If it came off in flight, it could well have hit the tail of the plane in the process, and this could well explain the the damage on the leading edge, but there also appears to be a puncture through the top skin just behind the front spar as though it hit something hard and small. From this puncture, you can see a fairly long split curving out and then along parallel to the spar towards the outer end, and also three slashes in the top surface as though a sharp object has cut into the top layer peeling the upper layer of the honeycombed skin back.
    I just can’t see anything on the tail of a 777 that could do this.
    Anyone got any suggestions?

  33. 1 out of 3 does not make 5!…….I just do not see that as Conclusive Physical Proof! Have I missed Something??

  34. Barnacles and drift models aside…Why so far no other debris ? Only a few pieces broke off in a ditching perhaps.. ? the.flaperon is strong..no sign in damage that the engine took it out?….if it were caused by flutter forces then other parts Would have been expected to break and debris result.?

  35. The translation is wrong. It says: ‘formally associate one of the three issues raised within the flaperon the serial number of the flaperon Boeing 777 flight MH370’

  36. @Jinow
    Yes, the whole thing is a mystery, but one needs to remember it’s a huge world out there, and Reunion is really only a blip on it.
    If it was caused by flutter in a so called dive past VNE, then there would be virtually nothing left of anything. More likely in my mind for it to have come off in normal flight due to the Jan 2006 AD not being complied with, but if so, why would it just happen to depart the aircraft then? And as I’ve said above, how does one explain the damage on it?
    If it did a controlled landing into water, then once again, how does one explain the damage on top of the flaperon? If it fell off the plane over land, then that would explain the damage on top of it, but how then did it get to be washed up on Reunion… unless it fell onto rocks at the waters edge? If the plane crashed on land, the flaperon would have sustained a lot more damage in the process in tearing the hinges and hydraulic ram mounting off. So as you can see, there are a lot of variables here.
    It’s a pity we didn’t have better photos of it.
    Maybe someone here on this forum might have a good idea to explain it? (When they wake up!) 17.46 pm Friday here….

  37. @spencer, your team are the losers and picking the location of the fake wreckage from the series “Lost” proves that. The “brilliant” plan is full of holes and they’ll show in time.

  38. According to Paul Humann’s ‘Reef Creature Identification’ manual the smooth goose-neck barnacle is common worldwide and found at depths 0 – 130 ft.
    I would imagine that the water at that depth would likely be colder than 18C.
    There are also grooved goose-necked and scaled goose-necked barnacles listed as ‘similar species’ which may or may not mean they are common too.
    Are all the goose-necked barnacles on the flaperon of one species or different?
    I don’t understand why only one number inside the flaperon fits the mh370 flaperon. Are the other numbers illegible or if not why do thy not correspond, are they spare parts?

  39. @Jason Wonder, “Numero” can be translated as “number” as the sense of a particular issue of a magazine (“number” in this sense is rarely used in English anymore but was common early in the 20th c.) but also as “number” in the sense of a house number or, here, a serial number. Google Translate is not very good at figuring out nuances of meaning from context.

  40. Jeff, you should not use Google translator for this. Your translation is wrong. Check your translation with the official one or check with someone who speaks french.

  41. @JasonWander, No, that is not an official translation, and no, it is not correct; that is how Google Translate renders it and is obviously full of errors, as I’ve already explained. At any rate, what point are you trying to make? Is there some difference of interpretation that you would like to argue for?

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