MH370 Debris Was Planted, Ineptly

Tiny colony
From the paper “Rapid, Long-Distance Dispersal by Pumice Rafting,” by Bryan et al.

In the weeks since MH370 debris began washing up in the Western Indian Ocean, I’ve struggled to understand the condition in which they were found. Particularly baffling were the three that washed ashore in Mozambique and South Africa, which were almost completely clean and free of marine fouling. I’ve talked to a number of marine biologists who study organisms that grow on floating debris, and they told me that given their pristine appearance these pieces couldn’t have floated for more than a few weeks.

Some observers have suggested that perhaps the objects had failed to pick up significant fouling because they drifted through waters that were too cold or low in nutrients, but further examination showed that this could not be the explanation.

One commenter on this blog suggested that the pieces were too shallow, or too small, to permit the growth of Lepas barnacles. This, too, is an unsuitable explanation, since Lepas can grow on bits of floating debris that are as small as a few centimeters across. The photograph above shows a small but vibrant community growing on a piece of pumice spewed from a volcano in Tonga; the largest Lepas (goose barnacle) in the image is 23 mm long.

In acknowledging the very obvious problem that this lack of biofouling presents, David Griffin of the Australian government’s science agency, CSIRO, has written (referring to the first Mozambique piece) that “this item is not heavily encrusted with sea life, so it has probably spent a significant length of time either weathering in the sun and/or washing back and forth in the sand at this or some other location. The time at sea is therefore possibly much less than the 716 days that have elapsed since 14 March 2014, and the path taken may have been two or more distinct segments.”

The idea then, is that these pieces washed across the Indian Ocean, were deposited on a beach, were picked over my crabs and other predators, bleached in the sun and scoured by wind and sand, the were washed back out to sea, then came ashore again within less than two weeks and were discovered.

One problem with this scenario is that while we might just about imagine a sequence of events happening to one piece, it seems incredible to imagine it happening to three pieces independently, in different locations and at different times. (To be fair to Dr Griffin, he proposed this idea at a time when only once piece had yet been found.)

Another problem with Dr Griffin’s idea is that no major storms took place in the two weeks preceding the discovery of each of the pieces in Mozambique and South Africa. Indeed, the region has been experiencing a drought.

In short, there is not plausible sequence of events by which the three pieces found in Africa could have arrived there by natural means.

What about the piece which turned up on Rodrigues Island? As I wrote in my blog post, the size of the barnacles blatantly contradict the possibility that the object was afloat for two years. And given that Rodrigues is surrounded by a reef, hundreds of miles from the nearest land, the idea that it might have washed ashore somewhere, gotten re-floated, and then came ashore again to be discovered is close to inconceivable.

Taken separately, these objects defy explanation. Taken together, however, they present a unified picture. Though discovered weeks and months apart, in locations separated by thousands of miles, they are all of a piece: they are all wrong. They do not look–at all!–like they should.

There is only one reasonable conclusion to draw from the condition of these pieces. Since natural means could not have delivered them to the locations where they were discovered, they must have been put there deliberately. They were planted.

In fact, we can go even further than that. Whoever put these pieces on the shores where they were discovered wasn’t even trying very hard. It would only have taken a little bit of imagination and a small amount of effort to put these pieces in the ocean for a few months to pick up a healthy suite of full-sized Lepas. This clearly was attempted in the case of the Rodrigues piece, but no effort at all was expended on the African pieces.

Why? Were they being lazy, or simply overconfident? Or did they know that it wouldn’t matter?

Perhaps the events of last July influenced their decision. After the flaperon was discovered on Réunion Island, it was whisked away by French authorities, given a cursory examination, and then hidden away. The public were never told what the investigators found, or didn’t find. No one seriously questioned whether the flaperon could really have come from a crash in the Southern Indian Ocean. (Well, almost no one.)

Six months later, the failure of the seabed search was looming. The Australian government had already begun saying that it might not find the plane, and preparing the public for the decision to call off the search. The narrative that the plane had nonetheless flown south to some unknown point in the southern Indian Ocean needed bolstering. Given how little inquiry had been directed at the Réunion piece, whoever planted the most recent four pieces might reasonably have assumed that the public would accept the new pieces uncritically, no matter how lackadaisical their preparation.

Maybe they were right. Past experience has shown that people have a remarkable ability to squint their eyes and avoid seeing the obvious ramifications of evidence plunked down in front of them. A good example was the seabed search that took place after acoustic pings were detected back in the spring of 2014. The frequency of pings was wrong, and the physical distribution of the pings indicated that they could not possibly have come from stationary wreckage. So it was clear from the data that the pings were not coming from black boxes. But numerous experts twisted themselves into knots explaining how the deep-sea hydroaccoustic environment was very weird, with salinity gradients and underwater valleys that channeled sound, and so on. I was on a panel on CNN one day when famed science communicator Bill Nye explained that the sound waves probably were refracted by passing through water masses of varying densities, and refraction causes frequencies to change. When you have to start changing the laws of physics to justify your interpretation of the data, it might be time to start looking for a new interpretation.

I’m not saying that people’s attempts thus far to explain the condition of the MH370 debris through non-nefarious means is misguided. Far from it–as the saying goes, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence, and when presented with evidence like the MH370 debris which invites such an uncomfortable (some will no doubt say outlandish) conclusion, it’s necessary to carefully rule out simpler explanations. However, once that has been done, we must not avert our eyes and say, “Well, I just can’t accept that conclusion, it’s not reasonable, there must be some explanation you’re missing,” or come up with a Nyeism that posits as explanation some phenomenon previously unknown to science.

If the MH370 investigation has taught us anything, is that restricting the discussion to “acceptable” explanations is a fatal trap. Early in the mystery, Duncan Steel hosted a discussion on his web site for people to exchange views and information. He had a rule, however: it was forbidden to discuss any scenarios which posited that the plane had been diverted intentionally, as he felt that this was disrespectful to the people on board. Of course, we now know that the plane was certainly diverted by someone on board, so effectively what Steel was outlawing was the discussion of any scenario that might possible be correct.

This mindset is alive and well. Recently on a discussion forum, one of the participants flatly stated that she was not interested in hearing about any theories that involve a hijacking. The ATSB has shown itself to be equally narrowminded. It has on multiple occasions declared that its interpretation of the Inmarsat data is unassailable. First it said that there was 100 percent chance that the plane was in the first 60,000 square km search area. When it turned out not to be, they drew a 120,000 sq km search area and declared that there was a 100 percent chance it was inside there. Come June, they will find (as we know now because of the condition of the African debris) that it is not there, either. Yet their recurring failure has not shaken their faith in their “reasonable” belief about what happened to the plane.

So maybe whoever planted the debris in Mozambique, South Africa, and Rodrigues weren’t lazy–maybe their understanding of human psychology simply allowed them to take the minimum steps necessary. Whether their calculation was accurate or not will now become apparent.


450 thoughts on “MH370 Debris Was Planted, Ineptly”

  1. @Steve

    “The official statement of the Paris’ Public prosecutor department took some liberties with reality.”

    Thank god for humans like jeff wise. He follows logic, our godgiven ability. If we all trained our godgiven abilities the world would be heaven, not just from the nature perspective but also mentally and spiritually. Instead there is not a day where we fight, hurt and kill each other with words, gestures, stroke of a pen, more advanced and destructive weapons made with science.

    The brain and the mind on its own creates all this havoc in the world, and that is because we dont have love. Love is not from thought, it is an energy beyond this sensoric 3d realm. Even animals have love when they are not busy being controlled by instincts.

  2. @Gysbreght: You also never bothered to explain the radical change from a steady 35 deg banked turn to a steep spiral dive 5.5 minutes after A/P disconnect.

    If there was a bit of fuel in the lines, the APU could run for a short while, allowing bank angle protection at 35 degrees. Once the APU runs out of fuel and only RAT is left, so-called secondary mode takes over, and envelope protection is lost.

  3. @Warren Platts:

    The flight controls go into secondary mode without envelope protection when both engines are flamed-out. If APU flame-out caused the radical change I referred to, then it’s up to ALSM to explain that, including whether the flame-out was due to fuel exhaustion calculated by the simulator logic or shut-down by the pilot or simulator operator.

  4. I sence tone has changed for the better.
    So I will let go of my bothers.
    I realise that’s not helpfull also, sometimes things have to be shaken up a bit I guess. If I offended anybody excuse me but this was certainly not my meaning.

    My bothers were mostly on the topic. Imo different credible statements were made which could explaine the lack of barnacles etc. on the new pieces. The planting-hypothesis thus far can not be underlined with usefull, provable information. At least no one did so far. And imo that makes sence for the hypothesis makes not much sence (now) in order contributing any further.
    Then I’ll suggest; move on and leave it for the moment at least until substantial information shows up regarding the topic.

    I find the discussions now held about the possibilities of spoofing the SDU from in- or outside the plane and how it could be done more interesting and relevant for the time being.
    And also the ditch or no ditch question which became quite relavant again imo after the findings of the latest pieces and information. Certainly now the currant search is coming to an end and people need to think about new (or in this case old) possibilities like a possible controlled glide and ditch. This can also attribute to define a new search area and a possible find. And that’s what is all about isn’t it.

    Something on the manipulation of the SDU, ACARS, Transponders which might be interesting:

    Further I read somewhere the SDU, ACARS, Transponders all run through the CMU.
    And if the CMU was out of order it could be non of them where switched off and working well only the translation to recievable data wasn’t possible anymore.
    Might be nonsens. I’m not an expert. But I wonder if this is true.

  5. Just for the record, entertaining the theory that the parts discussed in this article were possibly planted does not mean I in anyway believe Blaine or the others who found them would have had anything to do with that. I have no idea if they were planted or not and I’m not pointing the finger at any of those who made the important discoveries. I’m thankful for their contributions to the investigation.

  6. B777 Flaperon Operation

    The clue is in the name, ie. “FLAPeron”

    There are many landing videos on the net showing how the flaperon droops when flaps are extended for landing. The flaperon maintains it roll control function when fully drooped.

    From the B777 Aircraft Maintenance Manual:

    Flaperon droops to 10deg TED when flaps are lowered to position 5. Flaperon droops to 20deg when flaps are in position 15 or 20. Flaperon droops to 31deg TED when flaps are in position 25 or 30.

    The flaperon is set to neutral position for take off, to prevent damage from engine exhaust plume, reverting to drooped position when speed exceeds 100Kts. On landing, the flaperon reverts to the neutral position when spoilers are activated to dump lift.

    Flaperons and flaps work together to augment lift for landing. Consequently the recovered RH flaperon and the RH flap track fairing point to flaps extended as MH370 ditched, which means the APU was operating during the glide (the RAT by itself, cannot provide enough hydraulic power to extend the flaps)

    Persuasive evidence of a pilot-controlled ditching.

  7. @ROB:

    First you present a possibility into a fact, then you promote it to “persuasive evidence”.

    The flaperon can very well be dagaged and separated in the retracted position in a not quite succesful ditching with some rate of descent in a flat attitude.

    The entire flap track fairing was not recovered, only part of its bottom surface was found. Actually ‘flap track fairing’ is a misnomer. The B777 flaps do not run on tracks, but are supported by a 4-pivot linkage that lets the flap rotate when it translates rearwards. Have you considered the construction of the complete fairing and how it is attached to the flap support linkage?

  8. @Mitchell Hedges, Very little of any of these parts is aluminum; the barnacles seem particularly fond of broken composite and exposed honeycomb. It’s an interesting observation, however.

  9. Has anybody explored how the known debris got to its current form?

    Under the “Northern” scenario the plane landed intact. How would you create debris that looked like coming from an on-water crash without leaving a trace on it (like pulling or explosives)?

    Can the shape of the known pieces confirm North vs. South (apart from the molluscs etc.)?

  10. @airlandseaman, You have an amazing ability to see absolute clarity in data that other find puzzling (e.g. 0:19 BFO value, which you see as unequivocal evidence that the plane was in a steep dive of some specific feet-per-minute, thought the ATSB says its significance cannot be determined) and to see fuzziness and uncertainty in data that looks pretty nailed down to everyone else (e.g. the assumption that there must be some mysterious X factor keeping the wreckage from being spotted in its resting location near the 7th arc). The end result is that you (and the rest of the IG) have slowly crept out into the far fringes of crackpotdom in your attempts to shore up the assurances you made to everyone in mid-2014. As I’ve asked a million times: why can’t you guys just admit you were wrong and get back in the game?

  11. Gysbreght (Posted April 18, 2016 at 6:04 AM)

    “Why did you never show the data for the zero trim case? The EXCEL file you posted here shows the observed trim as 1 deg right, changing to 2 deg left after the first flame-out.”

    Everything you said in this statement above is not true. Sorry you are having so much trouble understanding the lessons learned from simulations.

  12. @Rand, great to hear from you again! Would be nice if you continue monitoring and if you grace us once in a while with your astute comments, that would be very nice indeed. 🙂

  13. @airlandseaman: “Everything you said in this statement above is not true.”

    Well I’ll be da…d. Below is a copy/paste from your EXCEL file, posted sept.7 at 7:56 PM on this plague … (page 5). What in my statement is not true?

    Time from 1st eng out Time from start of GopPro file Comments
    0:00:00 0:04:53 1st Eng Flame Out; TAC moves from 1 degree rt to 2 degrees left; fuel flow increases to left eng.
    0:01:07 0:06:00
    0:03:17 0:08:10
    0:03:50 0:08:43
    0:05:25 0:10:18 2nd Eng flame out
    0:05:33 0:10:26 All instruments dark except left seat; battery power only; right turn starting
    0:05:54 0:10:47 RAT power up; Instruments back on; TAC indicating 1 deg right
    0:06:54 0:11:47 APU power up; altitude dropping

  14. @WarrenPlatts – You said, “economical cruising speeds and altitudes.” Agreed, but there are many combinations that might have been used and each affects the range. For example, the repetition of FL350 is thought by some to remind ATC that a higher altitude had been requested. Yes, the flight plan did say FL350 but at its actual takeoff weight (perhaps lower than estimated?) a higher flight level might have been more economical. Surely, by the time it reached the last radar point at 18:22 at an estimated 210,000 kg, FL350 would not have been the most economical altitude. So let’s say the PIC chose FL380 or FL400, what speed is chosen? MRC to go the furthest? ECON 52 because that was the most economical? Or does the PIC ignore labor costs because the crew won’t get paid? LRC because it appears to have using LRC from IGARI to MEKAR? How about VMO to get as far away as quickly as possible since that is the goal rather than trying to fly efficiently?

    @DennisW – When I first saw the Doppler/BFO information, I knew I didn’t have the patience to attempt to analyze them. After I saw the methods used in various spreadsheets I though “that didn’t look so complicated.” Perhaps you are correct and there is more to the BFO’s than previously considered. For example isn’t the sub-satellite movement just an explanation of the apparent movement and the satellite doesn’t really wobble, but is on an eccentric orbit around the earth at 21.85° (as of March 2014) relative to the earth’s orbit around the sun with a period of one sidereal day. (This 21.85° is the 23.5° earth tilt minus the 1.65° satellite offset.) The eccentricity and the differing angle only make the satellite appear to “wobble” but from outer space the satellite looks like it is simply orbiting the earth.

  15. @Lauren

    The satellite does actually dither (most of the motion being in the North-South direction, fairly tight ellipse) about the nominal position over the equator.

    I am sure I have my head up my ass on what I am suggesting above, I just don’t see where I am screwing things up. It will probably occur to me in the shower. I have a long history of occasional mental seizures, and I am due for one. 🙂

  16. @Rob
    “Flaperons and flaps work together to augment lift for landing. Consequently the recovered RH flaperon and the RH flap track fairing point to flaps extended as MH370 ditched, which means the APU was operating during the glide (the RAT by itself, cannot provide enough hydraulic power to extend the flaps)”

    Your adjustments to your scenario after being proved wrong on the subject “flaperons always lower with flaps” are bewildering.
    The Rat operated glide / ditch was favoured by you and others in the assumption, that MH370 was actively flown until fuel exhaustion, followed by a short restart of the APU, which then also stopped due to fuel starvation. But on Rat power the flaperons would not move with the flaps.

    With your post above you now assume, that the APU was running for prolonged time until your flaps down ditch. On what fuel would the APU run?

    Or do you now distance yourself from the unpowered glide because there was no fuel starvation?

    Or do you assume the pilots shut down the engines for an unpowered glide with APU despite still having fuel available?
    Or do you assume, that there was more fuel available for the APU operation after the engine flamed out after fuel starvation than than the community here was made to believe?

    Gysbreght makes a valid notion, that a flat attitude and hsome descent rate at contact with water could produce a similar failure pattern on a retracted flaperon, and I would add that there are other aditional crash scenarios possible as well. The slow speed ditching with flaps and high speed vertical dive mark only the two extreme ways of ending an flight into the water.

    The flaperon and the other debris parts, if not planted, point only to an end of MH370 in the water somewhere in the SIO, but give no conclusive information concerning configuration, speed and intentions of the pilot on the controls, or even if there was an active pilot on the controls.

  17. @Brock (er, & @Steve)
    Regarding these ‘serial numbers’, is it possible that there
    is a misunderstanding arising from non-exact translation (French-English)??
    Could the ’12-serial-numbers’ reference actually have meant (when expressed
    exactly in English), that there were found ‘TWELVE alphanumeric symbols
    total’ (i.e., twelve symbols that were either numeral or letter), and
    these twelve total found alphanumeric symbols are parcelled up within
    ‘THREE actual serial numbers’ (as we would describe a ‘serial number’, as a
    series of alphanumeric symbols which act to identify a particular item)?

    I guess it’s clear that you have come to the view that the SDU on/off was
    only possible by human intervention (e.g., a human causing a switch to be
    turned off or on). From the responses of other posters here, some continue
    to hold the view that that off or on could be caused by power (interuption)
    to the particular equipment. (For instance, a fire per EgyptAir Flight 667
    causing arcing, possibly short circuit, possibly causing an under voltage,
    and later when certain wiring had literally melted, other wiring that was
    non-destroyed by the fire then continued to provide [now back to normal]
    level of power to particular equipment – e.g. ‘SDU reboot’.)
    I hold this view myself, in view of the immediacy and ferocity of the
    EgyptAir Flight 667 fire, which burned hot enough to literally drip molten
    metal down into/onto the avionics situated below the cockpit.
    (I understand the cockpit floor in a Boeing 777-200ER is also not metal,
    but rather is made of composites – {airlandseaman, correct?}).

  18. Folks, my two cents:

    For the record, I personally have never conspired to cook up any theories to support anyone’s pet theories. Have yet to experience anything but genuine hard work from the talented IG members to help figure out this tough mystery, absolutely no detection of any attempts to mislead, quite the opposite.

    One can observe IG members on public website proposing views and defending previous proposed theories. Others attempt to ‘poke’ holes in these theories (In my opinion this is welcomed and important to test metal with metal). Some pokes are offered without much research and technical prowess, that method of dart throwing is unfortunate. Some pokes however are quite well thought out and well presented. I have received some high quality public ‘pokes’ and they helped me improve my various projects. That’s the way it’s supposed to work. In addition, I learn from the high quality ‘pokes’ between other participants on topics where I am weak.

    I’m personally open to all reasonable ideas, regardless of how preposterous they seem on the surface, because this mystery has not been solved yet. These concepts too must face challenge and reproof.

    Many of us have invested an incredible amount of time and energy into concepts, theories, and analysis. The majority of people remaining to discuss MH370 in public forum appear to be doing so for the right reasons.

    FWIW, I am wide open to adjusting the Flaperon Failure Analysis upon gaining new insight that would alter the summations. It was NOT written to support flutter, it was written to be able to draw a conclusion, including the possibility of RULING OUT flutter. That effort was not started with an end in mind. In fact I almost gave up the analysis at one point because for a long time could not converge on any solid possibilities. One of the assumptions in the report is that the flaperon is from MH-370. If that turns out to be not true, then the effort will indeed be proven to be a complete waste of my time. But that was my choice to invest the time with hopes to add to the collection of crowd-source work trying to crack the case.

  19. I still feel the waterpings were a clue to guide a search to the bottom of the ocean, and perhabs one needs metall detector to find whatever is down there just beneath the sand. Dont ask me why.

    As for the planted debris it was perhabs needed for a “higher being” telling us that something of a cataclysmic proportion was about to happen and saved us because of the cargo. And left unsolvable evidence (debris) that leads to nothing but questions.

    Mh370 and its content is not with us since igari.

    That is my unscientific answer.

    If the debris was planted by non-humans that is all we are left with. Mh370 is gone for good.

  20. @buyerninety, Runaway fires can make things shut down, but they don’t make things start up again 40 minutes later–historically, what they result in is an immediate and fatal crash. This is just one of the many reasons that a fire, mechanical failure or other form of accident have long since been set aside as possible explanations for MH370.

  21. @Rand, I second @littlefoot in welcoming you back. Yes, it would be great if the African debris received widespread critical attention, even if the outcome is that some other explanation for its baffling appearance becomes the consensus view.

  22. @Trond
    The likelihood that wreakage has been “covered with sand” is not high –
    a search vessel imaged a ship from the 19th century(!) on the ocean floor.
    There is a finite possibility that the wreakage could have been strewn
    onto the downward slope of a decline (an abyss), making recognition
    problematic, though.

  23. @JeffWise
    “but they don’t make things start up again 40 minutes”
    Perhaps you didn’t fully read my post, where I outlined
    just how that could have occured. I don’t want to argue
    the point. I’ll just state that the view I hold is that
    initially the fire, but principally the smoke, either
    disabled efforts of the pilots to continue to function
    in the cockpit (no eye protection) or forced them from
    the cockpit. Depressurisation then killed everyone,
    eventually, due to the fire breaching the outer hull
    (per EgyptAir Flight 667).

  24. @Kenyon:

    It’s some time since I read your analysis of the flaperon damage, and in my memory it stands as entirely biased towards flutter. I’m not enclined to go through it again with a fine comb, so could you do me a favour and point me to the part where you made an effort to RULE OUT the possibility of flutter?

  25. Hasnt all hypothesis been suggested, every theory tested, and now we are only repeating ourselves?

    Jeff Wise’s article needs more than one google news headline. This could be due to that it is too alienating. People will start to feel uncomfortable. What if the entire universe is alive and what happened to mh370 had nothing to do with human intervention.

  26. What happened to that (russian) submarine the swedish military were chasing? Gone. What happened to that old submarine that was found between sweden and finland? Gone. What happened to that flywreckage in the bay of bengal that was thought to be mh370? Gone. Things just disappear and so did mh370.

  27. @Steve,

    Thanks a lot for translating de Changi!

    If I understand correctly the French investigation file contained a chart associating flaperons with planes:

    * flaperone RH405 meant for Boeing MSN 404
    * flaperon (RH)404 meant for Boeing MSN 400

    Now the Manufacturer Serial Number (MSN) is a 5-digit number, not three, so either these 3-digit plane numbers are an “abbreviation” of 28404/28400 or they are actually plane “line numbers”.

    The first alternative yields nonsensical results so let’s assume the 404/400 are line numbers.

    De Changi says ‘Moreover, another document hints at “flaperon number 404” (which is the serial number of the plane but not of the flaperon)’.

    De Changi seems to suggest there was some confusion and someone confused the flaperon number with the plane number.

    Let’s speculate for a moment that this other document is correct and the Reunion flaperon is actually (RH)404 that was meant for the plane with line number 400.

    I tried to trace the history of the plane with line number 400 and got interesting results. If the Reunion flaperon was planted then I think this “plane 400” could be a reasonable source for it.

  28. @RetiredF4

    Surely you can do better than that?

    Just to clarify, I have not needed to change my scenario in any way whatsoever! The aircraft was descending in preparation for a controlled ditching. In this situation, the flaperons droop as the flaps are extended. That is a fact, so accept it as such. Flutter as a failure mode is laughable, sorry Tom!

    For the Nth time: Pilot shuts down engines minutes before RH engine is due to flameout, after firing up the APU to ensure continuity of electrical power. This procedure made sure the APU would have sufficient fuel for an extended glide. Same time as he fired up the APU, he momentarily disconnected the SDU in order to make it reboot an issue a logon request, knowing that this would deceive the outside world into thinking he had crashed out of control near the 7th arc. He also wanted us to know the plane had run until fuel exhaustion so that the disappearance could never be dismissed by the authorities as an unfortunate accident. If everything had gone to plan, no wreckage would ever be found. His plan was slightly less than perfect, however.

  29. @Ge Rijn, thank for the link t the flutter video’s, in particular the second one. As the introductory slides pass rather quickly, I repeat them, because they provide a good introduction to what I have to say about a fluttering flaperon.

    Flutter occurs as a result of interactions between aerodynamics, stiffness, and inertial forces on a structure.

    In an aircraft, as the speed of the wind increases, there may be a point at which the structural damping is insufficient to damp out the motions which are increasing due to aerodynamic energy being added to the structure.

    This vibration can cause structural failure and therefore considering flutter characteristics is an essential part of designing an aircraft.

    That introduction is probably enough for the non-technical readers. For the others I would like to add that flutter is a cyclic process. During each cycle aerodynamic, elastic and inertial forces go through a cycle, all at the same frequency, but out-of-phase. The structure fails when the loads that it is subjected to exceed its strength.

    The flaperon was found with most of the upper and lower skin between the rear spar and the trailing edge, almost 40% of its planform, missing. Both skins are attached to the rear spar in the same manner, by a row of fasteners or rivets through holes in the skin and flanges on the rear spar. If the flaperon had been subjected to flutter, then the upper and lower skin would have been subjected to alternately tensile and compressive stress. They would there have failed in the same manner, along the row of fastener holes. That did not occur. The lower skin failed along the row of fastener holes, as if under tensile stress. The upper skin failed in a very different manner, as if the trailing edge was pushed upwards with the lower skin broken at the rear spar. Furthermore, with the rear 40% of its area missing, and its aerodynamic shape adversely modified, the aerodynamic forces that add energy to the flutter motion would be reduced and the flutter would stop. Thus the flutter theory cannot explain the failure of the hinge brackets that allowed the flaperon to separate from the wing. Conversely, if those hinge brackets failed first, the flaperon would not have shed the rear 40%.

    On the other hand, the flaperon failure mode is entirely consistent with the forces resulting from hydrodynamic pressure that can be expected at impact with the ocean in a flat attitude, acting upwards on the entire lower surface of the flaperon. Those forces separated the trailing edge in the manner described, tensile on the lower skin and compressive on the upper skin. The hinge brackets failed under the loads they were designed for, except that the magnitude of those loads exceeded the design strength. There is no process that would subject the flaperons to lateral forces large enough to break the hinge brackets.

  30. @jeffwise

    “@airlandseaman, You have an amazing ability to see absolute clarity in data that other find puzzling (e.g. 0:19 BFO value, which you see as unequivocal evidence that the plane was in a steep dive of some specific feet-per-minute, thought the ATSB says its significance cannot be determined) and to see fuzziness and uncertainty in data that looks pretty nailed down to everyone else (e.g. the assumption that there must be some mysterious X factor keeping the wreckage from being spotted in its resting location near the 7th arc). The end result is that you (and the rest of the IG) have slowly crept out into the far fringes of crackpotdom in your attempts to shore up the assurances you made to everyone in mid-2014. As I’ve asked a million times: why can’t you guys just admit you were wrong and get back in the game?”

    the same could be said for many climate scientists proposing CAGW, only few words should be changed 🙂

    I guess people more often than not get married to their theories, trying to find even the smallest connection to support it and rejecting obvious facts that disprove it.

    I have proudly changed my MH370 theory several times in the first month or so as we were getting more and more info, but from then on I’m stuck with failed hijack/divert that ended up somewhere behind CI and still can’t find good enough reason to reject it.

    Especially after independent flaperon drift analysis and all debris coming from the right side of the plane…including one indicating water possibly broke quickly into the cabin.

  31. @buyerninety

    I have my (unscientific) reasons to believe at least the black box and an item maybe twice the size as the flaperon and maybe more are down there. Most likely hidden just under sand, still no scientific reason. That is all i will say and stop there.

    If i am right then there is nothing in the current search zone. I will not post more such statements without arguments.

  32. @buyerninety

    I did my best at translating and I am pretty confident that it is fairly close in essence to what will be released in her translated book (once she finds an English editor).
    I was particularly careful to translate “numéro de série” into “serial number” every time it came up, since it’s a crucial topic that we are discussing.
    My two cents on this : she is not an aeronautical journalist, and may have herself sometimes confused the notion of proper serial number with the notion of alphanumerical number related to an aircraft part.
    I think you are right in what you say, and she may or may not be conscious of that.

    She is on twitter, though, and answers to english questions, so feel free to ask her.


    If we are to believe her reading of the “confidential documents” that she stumbled upon, yes, your understanding is correct, the investigators confused the number of the flaperon with the number of the Boeing.

    BTW what did you find about this “plane 400” ?

  33. @all

    Since we are going on about the possibility of flutter, I would just like to point out that PIhero on, who is a HIGHLY respected (if not always well received) member of the aviation community in all areas of flight analysis literally LAUGHED at the idea of flutter accounting for the condition of the flaperon. Yes, laughed in it’s preposterousness. Not a moments hesitation or second thought. No question is his mid whatsoever. FWIW.

  34. Thats what i said. The plane was subjected to much stronger forced when it was tossed around like a fighter-jet.

    It has to resist such forces or no one would dare to travel.

  35. @matt: Pihero did not laugh at it. He merely said that the trailing edge damage looked more like it was due to a ditching or a pancake landing.

    As for the French investigators, probably the reason they haven’t released anything is that they view MH370 as a terrorist act. As such it is an ongoing criminal investigation as far as they are concerned, so they are not going to lay there cards on the table now.

    As for why they think that, François Grangier said there was a “twist” to the flaperon that evidently isn’t immediately apparent to the public photos that led him to think of an attempted ditching.

  36. @Gysbreght,

    Thanks for the question. A great amount of time was put towards understanding what type of damage would be evident if the Flaperon was forced rearward or forced lateral upon contact with land/water. This was actually the first step. Then the photos were analyzed from the perspective of identifying such expected damage. Very little was found, in fact some photographic data suggested the opposite as shown in the report. Next was to understand the nature of the damage to the Asiana Air left Flaperon which was a known impact (non-flutter) B777 example and to find similar with MH-370 Flaperon.

    The conclusion was structural connection failures indicative of fatigue, which would be expected from a flutter type scenario. The analysis is not ‘biased towards flutter’ in a nefarious manner no more than an X-Ray of a broken arm could be purported as biased towards broken bones. I do not mean to imply the Flaperon Failure Analysis is definitive or conclusive as a Dr’s. interpretation of an X-ray of a broken arm, but want to make the point that I performed the analysis from an unbiased viewpoint, attempting to let the photographic data lead me to a conclusion.

  37. @Kenyon:
    “The analysis is not ‘biased towards flutter’ in a nefarious manner no more than an X-Ray of a broken arm could be purported as biased towards broken bones.”

    I didn’t write or imply “in a nefarious manner”. Apart from that I couldn’t express my point any better.

  38. @Jeff,
    Of course you are perfectly at liberty to manage your blog as you see fit, but your attack on alsm and the IG is unwarranted and unacceptable. “you (and the rest of the IG) have slowly crept out into the far fringes of crackpotdom . . . “.

    Those who criticise the IG do so from a position of ignorance. How could you know if you are not party to the many thousands of emails that have been exchanged between IG members over the last two years. There is robust debate, but the IG chooses to contain itself to facts, verifiable information and proper analysis rather than hive off on wild speculation and conjecture.

    It has been a long time since the IG as a whole published a paper that was agreed and supported by the whole group, but that does not mean the work stopped there. Even at that time the IG appreciated that some of the style and language used could easily be misinterpreted, and that has proven to be so. Since that time many additional papers have been published. These represent summaries of work done by individual members or small groups of members. They are published as a consolidation of some particular aspect of the work, as an invitation for further investigation by others, and have never been regarded as absolutely the last word.

    The way that the IG cooperates is actually quite remarkable, considering the range of diverse countries, backgrounds and skills within the members. The fact that it chooses to operate in a way that is quite different from your blog should not be so surprising. It does not thrive on speculation and conjecture, it does not traverse the same circles endlessly with individuals continually pushing their entrenched positions.

    As for ” . . get back in the game”. Well, this is not the only game in town. Perhaps it’s time that certain contributors here recognised that, got over themselves, and realised that some people much prefer to play on a different team.

  39. @Gysbrecht.

    You’ve made that quite clear, thank you. So, no flutter as aspected can be the cause of damage and seperation. Lets assume we take that as a fact.

    Then there are 3 possibilities left I suppose.
    One is a controlled or not controlled relatively low speed/low energy impact or ditching on the ocean surface in the SIO.

    Two: -relating to the topic- the damage on the flaperon was fabricated this way to look like it was sheered off during such an event and planted later.
    Does someone regards it as possible to fabricate the damage as it is seen artificialy by any means?

    Three: the Flaperon was found like it is but recovered much earlier somewhere else than the SIO and much later dumped back into the ocean in front of the coast of Reunion island.
    How and why could this have happened and have been done?

  40. @Brian Anderson, It’s true that neither I nor anyone else outside the IG knows what they’ve been doing with themselves, all we see are the reports issued on Duncan Steel’s website. If you are engaging in robust debate, it’s a shame, because all we see on the outside are tepid attempts to buttress a point of view that is out of date by at least a year and a half. Most recently, for instance, Richard Godfrey posted a piece which attempted to salvage “ghost ship” scenarios by proposing that the endpoint might have been closer to Broken Ridge–neglecting to point out that these endpoints required changes in thrust and so would require active piloting. Was this omission due to carelessness, ignorance, or disingenuousness? I don’t know, but it was sadly typical. Although some of your members continue to make signal contributions to the ongoing debate as individuals, as an entity you have made a mockery of the name “Independent Group,” since you seem determined to squash any progress towards any answer which is not that endorsed by the ATSB. Which, need I point out once again, is close to guaranteed wrong. I continue to struggle to understand how this came to pass–that a group which once was truly independent, which worked together to shine light into a mystery that authorities seemed determined to blanket in obfuscation, and which I was once a proud member of, has become a secretive, dissent-squashing klatsch of finger-waggers who stand astride the march toward progress shouting “No!”

  41. @Steve and all. Thanks for your efforts Steve in translating those two paragraphs of Florence de Changy’s book. What immediately comes to mind is the sad coincidence of the line number (LN) being 404, (compare with Error 404 Not found) 🙁 A quick search resulted in information from airfleets dot net, that 9M-MRO indeed had serial and line numbers: MSN 28420 LN 404. Florence’s write-up does indicate some muddled information/typos but it isn’t clear whose information is incorrect.

    More importantly IMO, even if the flaperon was genuinely from that plane on that flight, which it probably was, it doesn’t help us to establish whether it was planted or not. It would be very useful if anyone finds further debris looking like it came from a plane to get it analysed first by an independent lab before handing over to Malaysia 🙂 If no further debris is found for several months then I think Jeff is very likely on the right track with his comments that the recent debris were planted.

  42. @Warren

    Re the flaperon twist:

    Although the torsion is not immediately obvious from the photographs, I think that wrinkle in the leading edge (outboard) clearly shows that the flaperon structure was twisted during the detatchment. If the inboard hinge failed momentarily before the outboard hinge, as the flaperon was ploughing deeper into the water, that’s when it would have got twisted.

  43. @StevanG
    ad CAGW – do you really think that your MoD is joking about climate change as huge threat?? I was not much aware about it 2yrs ago too, but as it induces inevitable fossil fuels shocks in economy (we see it all now), then possibly conflicts somewhere, the migrations, … it makes sense – but I hope government these days negotiated better approaches in advance to overcome this all without any BIG conflict, although few small ones happen for a while; there are clearly some changes started and as I posted already few times the speeches, 2007 Bush+Putin (stategic cooperation in politics, economy, game…), 2009 Obama (global nuclear weapons and material safety, safe energy, including Kazakhstan nuclear fuel bank, sustainable economy big changes (ehm … Panama Papers in-line?), 1 trillion fund to overcome “some issues”, fighting powerty and wars, etc..) there is one similar speech from Russia too, again, friendly and with huge respect to west and “working together” mentioned too, even with Ukraine, but, unfortunatelly uncertain development there – they have their own hate and holy war with Russia simply; sad but true)

  44. @DennisW
    you once asked about nuclear material safety… be sure this thing mentioned in Obama speech in 2009 is key, these days too; and in fact also main reason why Putin notes wild Soviet Union dissolving as major “catastrophe”, together with 25M people quickly in doubt of social security payments of former united state, split families etc… there wasnt and isnt NO sentiment about good old soviet commie times 😀

  45. @JeffWise

    I agree with you entirely on your description of the IG. You have summed it up much more eloquently than I ever could.
    To put it simply, they have now become the lackeys of the ATSB.

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