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Aug 16, 2015

MH370 suspense as France stays silent, and Malaysia says strange things

As of tomorrow it will be a full two weeks since forensic testing of a claimed wing section from missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 began at the behest of a criminal probe in Fr

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None of this rubbish on La Reunion came from MH370

As of tomorrow it will be a full two weeks since forensic testing of a claimed wing section from missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 began at the behest of a criminal probe in France in a military aviation laboratory in Toulouse.

Two weeks and yet no finding on the authenticity of the barnacle encrusted two metre long, and visually partly damaged flaperon, from the trailing edge of a Boeing 777-200ER that was found on 29 July (possibly for the second time in three months) on a beach on La Reunion, a French island in the west Indian Ocean between Madagascar further west and Mauritius to the north east of its tropic shores.

The social media echo chamber is, not surprisingly on this occasion, full of so far unsubstantiated rumours that Boeing doesn’t think that what is definitely a part of a Boeing 777 was in this case ever put into service.

(Boeing hasn’t yet officially said anything about provenance.  It knows the protocols of air accident investigations, and sticks to them, notwithstanding that what is happening in Toulouse is actually a criminal investigation by the public prosecutor’s office in Paris, inquiring into the deaths of four French nations, at least three of whom were residents of that city.)

However the Minister for Transport in Malaysia Liow Tiong Lai, has said quite a lot about the debris found on La Reunion, and been basically called as wrong in his utterances by the French authorities on the island.

According to Mr Liow on 6 August, parts of aircraft windows, seat cushions and aluminium sheeting that he said were from a plane had been found and handed to authorities.

Who have clearly lost them?  Or maybe decided they were the sort of stuff you use to keep food left overs in a ‘fridge,  or were discarded furnishings, and not part of an airliner with 239 people on board that disappeared on 8 March 2014 when it was flying for Malaysia Airlines between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing.

When Mr Liow gave an interview more recently on the astonishing discovery that sheets of reinforced concrete similar to those used on building projects that were found in the Maldives weren’t from MH370, he still managed to express himself so vaguely that he left open the possibility they were from MH370.

Which would be huge news. Imagine a jet airliner partly built from reinforced concrete!

Mr Liow’s willingness to say things that are unconfirmed by French authorities,  follows on his Prime Minister Najib Razak calling an urgent press conference in a near empty room in Kuala Lumpur earlier this month to say international experts had ‘unanimously concluded’ that the wing part came from MH370 minutes before another press conference in Paris said no such thing, and urged caution as to provenance.

The public prosecutor’s office also expressed disquiet over a lack of ‘reciprocity’ on the part of Malaysia in responding to its requests for more information about the police inquiries made in Malaysia.

Liow and Najib are continuing to harm their credibility on matters MH370, as did the Australia Prime Minister Tony Abbott who in April last year briefly took centre stage to publicly assured China that the acoustic experts in a defence facility in Australia had concluded that the then early search for MH370 had detected two sets of ‘pings’ in waters off the NW shore of Western Australia that sounded like they came from the jet’s two black box recorders.

The erratic claims about MH370 that have come out of KL are cause for concern.

It may well be that the flaperon now in France did come from MH370. The French investigators are entitled to take as much time as they need to determine if it ever flew, and if it did, how it might have become detached from an aircraft, presumably the one flying as MH370.

But the impatience of the media, and a distrust of Malaysia’s authorities  in terms of their disclosures to date, have made the determination of the causes of the loss of MH370 a toxic and corrosive topic that remains the plaything of fantasy peddlers, opportunistic politicians and civil servants seeking to further or even save their careers.

Worse than that, some of those suppositions about dishonest and misleading behaviour may even be true.

For the next of kin of the dead, this is an awful and obscene spectacle.

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands has reported and analysed the mechanical mobility of humanity since late 1960 - the end of the age of great scheduled ocean liners and coastal steamers and the start of the jet age. He’s worked in newspapers, radio and TV in a wide range of roles as a journalist at home and abroad for 56 years, the last 18 freelance.

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25 comments

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25 thoughts on “MH370 suspense as France stays silent, and Malaysia says strange things

  1. comet

    The Malaysian government:

    -Suppresses opposition parties.
    -Fabricates charges for the purpose of jailing opposition leaders.
    -Allows its own leaders to accept gifts of up to a billion dollars, deposited into personal bank accounts.

    Now this band of thugs is in control of the MH370 investigation.

  2. Dan Dair

    “Now this band of thugs is in control of the MH370 investigation”

    Sad to say (& as you know)
    under aviation law, Malaysia has been in control of the investigation since day one.

    It was worrying that Malaysia directed recovery teams away from the original ‘found’ oceanic debris field very early in the search for MH370.
    It continues to be a huge concern that Malaysia is attempting to retain possession of the narrative, even though it is no-longer in charge of this aspect of the investigation.

    Following Malaysia’s statements, the world is now in no doubt that the flaperon is definitely from MH370.

    It will be most interesting to see their what they then have to say should the French investigations conclude that in fact the flaperon is not from MH370 after all.?

  3. Simon Gunson

    It is long overdue that ICAO stepped in and declared the air accident investigation by both Malaysia and Australia incompetent, with an aim to convening a search under competent international supervision.

    We know Malaysia has lied repeatedly.

    For example MH370 did not switch off the transponder. At 230nm from the SSR radar at Genting Highlands, IGARI was where transponder contact normally fades away.

    Vietnam’s HCM control are recorded advising they lost MH370 off their SSR radar at BITOD at 1:30am. HCM control then asked both MH88 and JAL750 to raise MH370 on distress freq 121.5 MHz. One report by NST claimed JAL750 did raise MH370. Were this to be true then Kuala Lumpur has obstructed an air accident investigation by striking that from the official record.

    Why is that important?

    …Because 16 months of effort and $127m have been wasted looking in the wrong place due to misdirection of the search effort not just by Malaysia, but also by the ATSB.

  4. Simon Gunson

    Dan Dair

    If as you suggest somebody substituted a flaperon from elsewhere in a cruel hoax then that would be an unspeakably obscene criminal act.

    Unfortunately nothing much would surprise me anymore.

    I understand MAS flew engineers who conducted repairs on 9M-MRO’s flaperon to visually confirm their own handiwork. I understand Najib’s confidence stems from these engineers visually confirming their own previous repairs. What it actually does is shine a spotlight on poor record keeping at MASwings, the maintenance MRO operated by MAS.

    Whilst I get where you are going with your suggestion I prefer the simple explanation that MH370 has the potential to expose corruption & incompetence and the cover-up is more to do with ham fisted lies and denials. Not something as sophisticated as you suspect.

  5. Dan Dair

    Simon Gunson,
    Quite honestly Simon, I’m not really alluding to a conspiracy (though obviously until some firm ground is established, almost anything is still possible.?),
    it’s more a case of wondering aloud how the Malaysian authorities would retain any world credibility (not that there’s much left anyway.!), should the French declare the flaperon as being NOT from MH370.?

    The Malaysians have jumped-the-gun again.
    They might be correct in their assertions, but they’re still out of line to do that…
    & if they’re actually wrong.?????

  6. COTOS

    I’d like to say the investigators found sand in the flaperon only found in Kazakhstan as well as barnacles from great southern ocean and thats why they went quiet but thats just silly….
    Although the photo from the beach does appear to show missing hinges and fittings from the control surface that by design would still be attached, maybe its attributed to the limited release of photos and angle of that photo.

  7. comet

    There should be greater haste to get always-on GPS tracking on all aircraft.

    Whether it’s a B777 or an ATR-42. We’re still having aircraft going missing, with authorities saying they don’t know where the aircraft is.

    GPS = minimal cost.
    Airlines are no valuing passengers’ lives.

  8. Ravi N

    Yes Cotos.
    It’s seems very strange for the Flaperon to have very little damage at the points where it it attaches itself to the rest of the wing. I would have thought that there would be a lot more shearing than what appears in the photos. Perhaps it is Red Herring deployed to mislead any successful search.

  9. Michael Hogan

    A little common sense from a Canadian Pilot….

    Several Institutions do not want to find this aircraft – including Malaysia, Boeing, and the NTSB, because it will reveal the cause of the crash was the chain reaction of 220 kg. of lithium batteries in the hold.

    This fireworks was reported by an Oil Rig Engineer below as it lit up the sky. He was subsequently fired and sits at home in Zew Zealand, unemployed.

    This aircraft remained in the air with all on board dead before it was spotted by many in the Maldives foundering under full power. The Madives Goverment is suppressing this as they did not see it on their radar. It was too low.

    This is where it will be found. The flaperon found at La Réunion is a logical drift. South West of Australia is not.

    Michael Hogan, P. Eng., PhD, IFR Multi-Engine Volunteer pilot with Hope Air (A Canadian Charity dedicated to flying those in need to medical care).

  10. comet

    I.must say, Boeing has been rather quiet about it.

    This contrasts with Airbus in the aftermath of the AF447 crash. Airbus stepped forward and financed the search for the aircraft’s flight recorders.

    I get the impression that Boeing is quietly hoping another nation state will volunteer to finance the next round of searches for MH370.

  11. Ben Sandilands

    Michael,

    It couldn’t have lit up the sky SE of Vietnam, where the oil rig worker was situated, and then crashed near the Maldives.

    Nor could it have continued to make intermittent stand by attempts to log on with the Inmarsat satellite network, including the west Indian Ocean Inmarsat which is invisible to an aircraft in that part of the Pacific hemisphere.

    The engineer who is no longer employed should consult the archives of the astronomical fireball network which monitors the multiple large meteorite events recorded ever day.

    It would be an instructive, and a highly logical and scientific first step to take, and it is surprising this data base wasn’t consulted.

  12. Ben Sandilands

    Micky #8

    An interesting photo which although dark seems to show the flaperon, which is inboard, still attached to the wing. Perhaps it was removed during the subsequent repairs?

  13. Dan Dair

    Ben Sandilands, Micky Sinx,

    Are you suggesting that the flaperon found at La Reunion might actually have been part of 9M-MRO at some time in the past, but is not necessarily from the lost, flight MH370.?
    Curiouser & curiouser….

  14. Micky Sinx

    Dan Dair, Ben Sandilands
    Here’s another pic of the damaged wing.
    https://forum.lowyat.net/topic/3155132/all
    How was the wing fixed? Was the whole wing replaced? Were there “spare parts” left over in storage somewhere?

  15. COTOS

    In the photo the flaperon is distant from the damage to the tip , that would be the aileron closest to camera but thats not without saying a faulty repair or undetected problems couldnt bring that plane down later with the same wing but it would be instant and not over seven hours of flight.
    there was probably no need to replace the flaperon but stranger things have happened.

  16. Michael Hogan

    Ben: I disagree. MH370 It could have flown 7 hours with all dead on board.

    There is a precedence for this: Golfer Payne Stewart took off from southern Florida in his Lear 35 and was dead before they got to altitude. The plane crashed in North Dakota.

    As for the Oil Rig Engineer, every good deed shall be severely punished. He wrote a proper report and submitted it to his company. They elected not to follow up. He went public. Please research this travesty. I believe his name is Mike McKay. He is still adamant. Proud but poor – a double curse.

    Michael Hogan

    Add Mike McKay to the list including Julian Assange, Edward Snowden…..

  17. Simon Gunson

    Michael whilst I can agree with some things you say, a Lithium battery fire would not disrupt communications or overwhelm crew so fast a distress call was not possible.

    On the other hand a fire in the CMU processor below the cockpit would recreate the scenario you refer to.

  18. Ben Sandilands

    Michael Hogan #17

    You can’t be serious about a fireball sighting well to the east of the last ATC transponder return from MH370 being associated with claims by a group of willing to help islanders telling a reporter what he wanted to hear about a claimed sighting of a jet in the Maldives more than six hours later as dawn broke.

    I haven’t been able to find a time of night for the sighting from the oil rig either. (It may well be in notes but if you are going to make the claim you have as a professional pilot please do the basics and give us times.)

    You say Mike McKay’s report wasn’t followed up but when I go back to the news reports of the time it was abundantly followed up by the authorities, including by sending shipping into the area while following up claimed debris sightings.

    Google is your friend. Misrepresenting what happened to Mr McKay’s claims is annoying and time wasting.

  19. Michael Hogan

    Ben: I said it wasn’t followed up by his company. Of course it was by authorities, after he went public, which got him fired. But, nobody has searched south of the Maldives.

    Searching far to the south-west of Australia is a “fool’s errand”.

    Track me live anytime on Flight Aware at:

    https://flightaware.com/live/flight/CFROL

    My tail number is CFROL. Click on the photo of my 50 year old Twin Comanche. I carry 8 hours fuel and I do my own bush maintenance.

    My designator for my Volunteer Medical Flights is “Hope Air One”. See http://www.hopeair.ca

    Michael Hogan

  20. Simon Gunson

    Ben

    A friend of mine Denise Wong corresponded with Mike McKay. He himself could not place the time within half an hour.

    It is not entirely implausible that McKay saw MH370 provided it was within a 240nm radius flying @ 35,000 feet.

    Contemporary News reports alluded to last contact with MH370 on Vietnamese SSR radar at 1:30am Malaysian time (17:30 UTC). Vietnamese ATC controllers are recorded in the logbook at Lumpur control advising they had lost MH370 off their radar at BITOD (north of IGARI).

    The nearest Vietnamese primary radar is at Tan Son Nhut airport with a maximum range of 90nm. The only Vietnamese radar with coverage of BITOD is the SSR (receiver) unit at Ca Mau airport. By inference if Vietnamese controllers at HCM control saw MH370 on their radar the transponder was not switched off.

    Michael is correct insofar as none of these matters have ever been enquired about by any official ICAO investigation.

    Mike McKay himself complained about this in his famous email complaining this fact. he was silenced by his employers after speaking to Bob Woodruff then he was sacked and maintained a silence for more than a year afterwards.

    The entire question of MH370 flying north of IGARI has been muzzled & ignored by investigators.

    I do not agree with Mike Hogan on Lithium Batteries, but I have little problem with other parts of his scenario.

  21. Simon Gunson

    Ben post script

    Satellite data also corroborates the oil rig sighting & contention that MH370 flew further north. I can tell that you feel irritated by this suggestion, but please hear me out.

    We know the signal path from Perth to satellite IOR3 & MH370 at 18:25 UTC is 41,132nm.

    Whilst there was no ACARS signal from MH370 at IGARI we know the position & distances involved with precision and can say if there was an ACARS signal at 17:21 UTC the signal path distance would be 41,407nm.

    The difference is just 275nm. This means after 64mins of flying MH370 was still no more than 275nm away from IGARI. Insufficient to be flying around Sumatra. Insufficient to reach MEKAR even.

    However if MH370 flew further north than IGARI and turned back from Vietnam within 240nm of the oil rig, then this would explain why it was still so close to IGARI.

    This may clash with what you believe you know Ben, but it is hard to argue with the sat data.

  22. Ben Sandilands

    Simon,

    What satellite data on the northward track? Any communication in the area of the oil rig would have been with the west Pacific Inmarsat, which is why there is a gap between the northern and southern arcs of locations at which the west Indian Ocean Inmarsat would have been approx 44 degrees in the sky at the last incomplete exchange of signals initiated by the server on MH370 for reasons unknown.

    I don’t have a scenario to defend so I don’t care if it is beside the temple in Northern Vietnam in the 8000 metre deep gorge as one person keeps insisting. But I do know that the authorities in KL knew something that night, and I don’t think it was about a fire or a decompression, and that the French would like to know more about what it was the caused them to go back to bed instead of getting serious about the S and R effort.

    If unique among all the hundreds of apparently perfectly normal ACARS transmissions that occurred during the seven hours 39 minutes that MH370 was in the air its signals were faked after a period of time then it could have landed gently in my top paddock in the highlands.

    At the moment, duration and satellite elevation seem to be elements of the mystery that are difficult to exclude without making fantastical constructs.

    But,the truth may astonish us all, or perhaps our grandchildren.

  23. Michael Hogan

    Carrying 220 kg of lithium batteries in the hold of a passenger aircraft is madness.

    It has since been banned by the FAA. I have first hand experience with a GPS meltdown in the air.

    There is much more to this lithium battery story, but I can wait till MH370 finds us again as it has at La Réunion.

    The predominant wind direction and Indian Ocean Gare also suggest Maldives to La Réunion.

    The present search area – no chance.

    Michael Hogan

  24. Ben Sandilands

    Certainly agree when it comes to lithium carriage.

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