air crashes

Jan 29, 2017

Another potential MH370 part found on South African beach

Malaysia official joins South African aviation forum to urge careful handling of new fragment

Ben Sandilands — Editor of Plane Talking

Ben Sandilands

Editor of Plane Talking

Photos of what may be part of the trailing edge structure of the wing of missing airliner MH370 have been published by the South African aviation forum Avcom.

The barnacle encrusted part was apparently found on Friday morning, January 27, on a beach on the Transkei coast near East London.

Avcom is showing four images as well as comparative photos of the intact trailing wing area of a Boeing 777 similar to the one that was operating Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on March 8, 2014, when it disappeared with 239 people on board on a flight between Kuala Lumpur and Beijing.

The governments of Australia, Malaysia and China recently ‘suspended’ the sea floor search for MH370 after the ATSB concluded that an additional zone of the South Indian Ocean most likely contained the sunk wreckage of the 777-200ER jet.

This perverse and counter intuitive decision has been widely criticised, including by the next of kin of those on board and the ATSB itself.

There is an interesting and technically informed discussion on the Avcom site as to whether the object is from MH370. The combination of very thin gauge aluminium alloy and honeycomb composite material shown in the photos is widely used in airliners built from the 1980s onwards.

A Malaysian aviation official has joined the Avcom site after spotting the post and provided his Kuala Lumpur contact details and urged the careful preservation of the recovered item.

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18 thoughts on “Another potential MH370 part found on South African beach

  1. Dan Dair

    And I reiterate the now old-chestnut & personal hobby-horse:

    They’ve spent a phenomenal amount of money to explore a substantial area of deep-ocean floor.
    They’ve come up empty, but you’ve got to respect the commitment that they made.?

    However, a couple, perhaps as much a five million dollars would probably be sufficient for the official investigation team to organise searches of the the whole of the beaches in the region where the debris is washing up.

    A few outsiders to train the local team-leaders & those people to train & support the existing beach & shoreline workers, so they know what to look for & who to report it to.
    So simple

    & yet no-one in a position of power or authority in this investigation is helping themselves to get some value-for-money searching done.!!!

    1. Crocodile Chuck

      Who cares about the flotsam & jetsam?

      Its the cockpit voice & data recorders that are important.

      And they won’t be found washed up on a beach in Madagascar.

      1. Dave M

        Two guesses from a non-expert: If the right pieces of flotsam were found, they might shed light on the cause of the disaster (e.g., if the windshield fire idea were correct, certain pieces would be burned). Also, if *lots* of pieces were found, maybe someone could make a much more accurate drift model to predict the crash site (and thereby find those recorders).

        1. Tango

          Crock Dick:

          So how else do you think those black boxes are going to show up?

          You don’t get the value of the pieces.
          First they have confirmed its a high speed crash. That means that their end flight data assessment is right. It goes from a theory to close to a fact (and by close I means 99.999% and that in reality is a fact)

          Like most of the data, the better confirmation the more accurate a picture you can make.

          You also are ignorant of or ignoring what drift theory data says.

          Pretty appalling from an Australian. Like Alaskan, most Australians live eat and breath weather, oceans, drift as its their very world (or that was my impression)

          Pieces being found are s a pattern, the more pieces that show up in a given area (or scattered) , the better you can narrow down WHERE they came from (or open it up)

          One piece is statistically is useless other than in a HUGE possible area.

          Dozens of pieces begin to add up and narrow it down.

          If it points to the Northern area they think it may be in, then that’s more support that if they can narrow the Northern down or confirm it better, then they have more confidence to do the search there.

          I may not be a spend endless money on the earth, I am for doing more if they can fine tune it to where it gives them a good probability.

          My issue is that once it sunk they launched the search on bum info, once the pingers died, it was time to pull back, keep refining the data, wait for the piece to show up (if they were going to) and then do it.

          They don’t find Spanish Galleons by searching the whole Atlantic Ocean. They find them by going through all the records , cross compare, sort, sift analyze and repeat until they come up with good plausible location and then go find it.

          1. Tango

            My apologies, it should have been Crock Chuck or CC.

            My wife uses that term CD for the original Crocodile Dundee and I am afraid it has stuck.

            One of our all time favorites by the way. Keeping in mind as we live in Alaska we know how things get exaggerated and stereotyped .

            Still enjoyed it a lot

          2. Simon Gunson

            Calling someone else a Dick is rich when spouting 99.999% certainty of high speed impact.

            Impact with the sea would have totally destroyed the Flaperon and flap found at Pemba Island. Again you have embarked upon selective fact finding.

            In February 1985 a Boeing 747SP suffered a falme out first to one engine and then to three of four engines stalled and spun from 41,000ft and recovered at 9,500ft. During a 30 second period the rate of descent reached 18,750fpm and 5g.

            MH370 suffered a dual flame out and spiraled down acceslerating from 12,000fpm at 00:19:29 UTC to 25,000fpm at 00:19:37 UTC. MH370 was descending at 25% greater rate of descent than Air China FLT 006 thus experienced at least 5g if not 6g Forces.

            FAA Part 25 requires airliners to be tested to destruction and certified to +2.5g/-1.5g. The B777 was tested to ultimate destruction at 3.75g.

            Therefore we know for 100% fact that MH370 experienced 160% of failure load before it ever reached the sea. To suggest that it ever reached the sea intact before impact is totally naive.

            MH370 broke up in a hypoxic spiral dive.

      2. Simon Gunson

        Things that the Flotsam & Jetsam have taught us which we would not otherwise know:

        1) Pemba Flap was retracted -dispelling speculation of deliberate ditching
        2) “NO STEP” ejected high-lock fasteners due to flutter – supports hypoxia
        3) Flaperon Barnacles confirmed sea temperature & impact latitudes
        4) Interior bulkhead fragment confirms MH370 broke up – not ditched

        What these FACTS have proved is what could not have happened and narrow the range of possible explanations for where to look.

  2. Ben Sandilands

    But the problem remains that Australia can’t tell other nations what to do in relation to coastline search. It would be like soon to be (?) Little England trying to tell Algeria or Argentina what to do in a similar situation, and a lot of money would be spent ‘interacting’ with officials. Australia does have maritime search and rescue obligations in relation to parts of the Indian, Pacific and Southern Oceans, as well as overall responsibility for air and sea navigation of an official rather than ad hoc nature.

    The priorities of Malagasy and Tanzania may not extend to the disappearance of a few hundred non-nationals, and they are countries where in human terms, the priorities of governments and their agencies are in some circumstances both urgent and different.

    PS Reading the South African media from time to time, as well as that of Malaysia more frequently, we might be astonished at how quickly a few million dollars can (like MH370) just vanish.

    1. Dan Dair

      I wasn’t advocating that the official joint investigative group give money to anyone.
      I’d suggest that, in co-operation with the individual nations & local authorities, the investigative group put specialist trainers into each area. Train-up people to be co-ordinators & then get those people to work with & train-up the existing beach & shoreline workers.

      Paid at local rates, the co-ordinators would be relatively inexpensive and I’d suggest that the finders of any debris would be paid only upon positive results, possibly though, quite well by the standards of the region.?

      1. Ben Sandilands

        Now I understand. There have been so many people attacking the Australians for not exercising what sounded like Imperial fiat in ordering other countries around! Your idea makes much more sense, and the only country that can act that way is the investigating authority which is Malaysia. It is running (but without any obvious results) the official investigation in to the causes of the crash, as distinct from instructing Australia on its search priorities, as the country of registration of the jet performing MH370. In the case of MH17, it ceded or delegated that authority to the Dutch Safety Board, as well as the Dutch led criminal inquiry, but it wouldn’t give anything away when it came to MH370.

        However something may be changing. The prompt response of the KL authorities to this latest find, and several other recent hints, suggest KL is much more open to pursuing a resolution of the mystery now that no physical searching is going on. We have to make our own conclusions about that turn of events.

        1. JW (aka James Wilson)

          For what it’s worth, ICAO Annex 13 stipulates the “State of occurrence” is responsible for the investigation. In the case of MH17, Ukraine, not Malaysia, was responsible for the investigation; however, Ukraine delegated that responsibility to the Netherlands. In the case of MH370, the aircraft is assumed to have crashed “outside the territory of any State”. Consequently, responsibility for the investigation lies with the “State of registry” of the aircraft, ie Malaysia.

          1. Tango

            We had the same hand off from Egypt on the 767 suicide (yea I am slipping that one in)

            As it was fairly close to US coast, and 3000 miles from Egypt, they officially handed it off to the US.

            They of course did not like the conclusion the US came to and then disputed it.

            So it goes.

          2. Simon Gunson

            Egyptian Flight 990 has never been proven to be a suicide. Both pilots recovered the B767 which was pulled out of a dive and then climbed again before it broke up.

            It was convenient for Boeing to blame the pilot as it kept the B767 in production.

            No different from blaming the Malaysian pilot as it kept the B777 in production.

            In fact bribing the Chinese Government with a $38 billion deal to assemble the B777-X in China probably helped to muzzle their objections too?

  3. derrida derider

    Dave M is absolutely correct, especially in his second point. I’ve done simulation modelling of complex systems for a living, and there are two features of it:
    – it gets exponentially more reliable as the input data gets richer (or, if you prefer, it is crap unless you can get good data).
    – using two or more unrelated simulation approaches to cross check each other can enormously improve the accuracy of both.
    So they’ve recovered about half a dozen bits from African beaches. Had they recovered ten or twenty times that, those drift models would start to narrow the area of interest right down. If that area intersects with the simulated area based on the flight data and fuel load, then they could get it REAL close. If not, then they’d be motivated to re-examine that model.

    Either way, a systematic search was a cheap way to get more information and it beggars belief it was not immediately done as soon as the first piece turned up, if not before.

    1. Tango

      I don’t know a great deal of in depth statistics , but I do know more data in this kind of situation is better.

      As I write I am watching a data set trying to tune an A/C unit. If I had more input into the algorithm I could do a lot better . If I knew what it was thinking (more data) I could do better.

      Maybe they could come up with an Adopt A Beach volunteer setup (iun the US they Adopt section of highway s and roads)

      As its often a company, we could get Starbucks to encourage their employees to do so (McDonalds etc.)

      Otherwise why would local countries care? Nothing for them and they have enough problems even if not corrupt.

      China is a different story (Malaysia, hmmm) and China speaks with a forked dragons tongue considering their gross abuses.

    2. Dan Dair

      Derrida Derider,
      “it beggars belief it was not immediately done as soon as the first piece turned up, if not before”

      I’m not so sure about the ‘if not before’ bit….
      It’s tough to look for something until you start to notice it’s there to be found.?

      But, I agree completely that ‘it beggars belief’.
      Croc is right that what we’d really like are the ‘black boxes’ but the fact is that the debris recovered from the shorelines has already allowed the ATSB to determine that the aircraft had a high speed (and almost certainly uncontrolled) impact with the seas surface.
      How much more information could debris & wreckage tell us, if anyone bothered to collect it up in an organised fashion & give the experts the chance to examine it.
      Right now,
      bits of 9M-MRO/MH370 might well be getting thrown into waste or recycling skips,
      simply because the people that found them have no idea of their significance,
      because no-one yet has bothered to tell them.?
      As for improving the data ‘richness’.
      Anything which can help justify a second sea-bed search has got to be a runner.?
      AND, the collection of this data (by collecting & logging the debris) is a relatively cheap way of enhancing the amount of drift-data for modelling purposes.

      I don’t suppose they’ve lost the signals from any of the ‘drift-buoys’ they launched.?
      How will anyone know that someone’s looking for them, if they don’t tell the shoreline workers that they’ve ‘lost’ them.?
      They’ll just go in the skip with the rest of the aircraft debris.!
      It’s brilliant.?
      (no, that’s not the word I was really thinking of.
      The word I meant to use included two of them. They were pinkish & hairy.
      Began with a ‘B’ though!!!)

  4. Dan Dair

    Just had a random thought……
    Maybe the ‘official’ from the Malaysian authorities recognised this part as where they planted the ‘device’.?????
    Consequently, they don’t want anyone else to mess around with it until they’ve had a proper opportunity to steam clean. bleach, steam clean some more, treat with vinegar & steam clean all over again just to be on the safe-side, the offending part……..

    Or maybe I’m just susceptible to the occasional conspiracy theory………

    Hey ho…..
    Soon be April 1st.!

    1. Simon Gunson

      Another random thought… Very likely the official is the same one who lost his wife on MH370 whose daughter Grace has campaigned hard to find more debris, so one should be careful whom one denounces?

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