MH370: Caution, no quick resolution

July 29, 2015: By now the world knows a piece of an airplane wing consistent with a Boeing 777 has been found on an island near Africa, thousands of miles from the search areas of the West Coast of Australia.

As this is written, while news reports indicate Boeing says that from photos the part appears consistent with a 777 wing part (and, of course, Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 is the only missing 777), confirmation hasn’t been achieved.

Even if this part proves to be from the missing 777, don’t expect any resolution soon.

Computers may be able to calculate ocean currents, time and distances to trace back a reasonable point of origin–if possible, this will take time–and then deep sea searching must start all over again.

Caution should be exercised over this discovery. No quick resolution is going to be forthcoming if this part is from the missing airliner.

This mystery is far from over.

35 Comments on “MH370: Caution, no quick resolution

  1. There is absolutely no way, after all this time, that they will be able to figure out where that piece came from. Currents are far too chaotic.

    • Not only currents are quite chaotic another problem is wind. It depends also on how far above the water a flotsam reaches to calculate the interaction between current and wind.

  2. The mystery is indeed far from over. But at least we may be holding the smoking gun that everyone had been expecting. If it is confirmed that this is a piece of MH-370, and I have no reason to doubt that it will, it would mean that the aircraft was not abducted by Aliens as some originally believed…

    • … Unless, of course, the aliens left that piece behind to throw us off their trail… 😉

    • …it would mean that the aircraft was not abducted by Aliens as some originally believed…

      – or did not get sucked by black holes… 😉

      – or perhaps ruling out some suggestions (possibly in the LNC comments section) that the aircraft could have gone into low earth orbit.

    • Please please please,
      let’s speak seriously & rationnaly.

      It is only a proof that THIS part of the aircraft was not abducted.

  3. At least this part IF from 777 will dampen the Diego Garcia and Area 51 folks. Puts the general locus somewhere in the South Indian Ocean and mayat least verify they are searching on the correct side of the equator.

    • sadly, nothing will deter the DG/A51/conspiracy theory folks.

      they will just say, it was flown to DG, the flaperon and some suitcases removed and put in the water for proper barnacle growth and then just 2 nights ago deposited on the beach as “evidence”

      crazy people are crazy.

  4. I think it will be a small relief for the relatives if this turns out to be a real identification of the MH370 plane. So far they have just had speculation

  5. For sure, no quick resolution but if it is really a 777 part, that’s a beginning. Moreover there are reports from Reunion Island about a luggage found out at the same place today. As the french BEA is now in charge of the inquiry, we’ll have quickly a first official report.

  6. Satellites may again come to the rescue of the search operations. Shortly after the crash of MH-390 a possible crash zone had been established with the use of satellite data that had been radioed by the aircraft itself in its last few hours. This time they will use satellite data coming from the surface currents that have been recorded between Australia and La Réunion island since the crash. By calculating those currents starting from La Réunion they can go all the way back to the approximate crash zone near Australia. Apparently the calculations should take only a few days. They would then be able to resume the search operations in a smaller and more specific area of the ocean.

  7. As noted its wind and currents and over a year since.

    Other than confirm they have the area right (like in 1/4 of the planet area) it will not lead to any better data than they have from the Satellite and that’s a lot of dodgy calcs and assumptions already (right idea but too many variables to be accurate.)

    • What you say is true for deep currents but not for surface currents for which they have a detailed picture derived from data gathered on a daily basis by satellites since the crash. According to some specialists it is a relatively easy operation to make the required calculations using reasonable assumptions. If successful this could potentially reduce the task of the ongoing search operations.

  8. If so why have they not predict this drift pattern?

    Easy to model for the area of impact supposedly.

    Its not an area anyone watches and the coverage is going to be sparse if non existent.

    Its also unbelievably huge and minor local wind variation as well as surface current variations and changes not seen and what may be at the edge of one that can go either way, I don’t buy it..

    • “If so why have they not predict this drift pattern?”

      Because to do so they needed a starting point; but until now they only had a very large arc to circumscribe their search. But the way things are turning out they can now start at La Réunion and work there way back to a projected impact point by computing the surface currents that would have initially carried the flaperon all the way to the island over the last 525 days. You can call it reverse engineering if you want.

  9. The Aussies did run models and did predictions. None of it has worked out.

    You obviously are well entrenched in your beliefs.

    Me, I have seen too many predictions go sour let alone one of this complexity and magnitude.

    Millions of variables between any crash sight and finding and a 1.5 years or so to have them happen. I don’t think you really grasp how huge an area that is down there or the magnitude and the complete lack of the information you seem to think they have.

    They can’t predict a drift of a week let alone this long.

    Stay tuned.

  10. General drift also says that Madagascar should be seeing wreckage show up.

    Originally they predicted a Australian landing of debris.

    So much for ocean modeling though the crash area has changed repeatedly.

    • Thanks for the video ( I am a big fan of PBS). I liked the part when it was said that the trailing edge of the flaperon was damaged like if it had been subjected to high-speed fluttering; the kind of damage it would have sustained in a high-speed dive for example. This suggests to me that the airplane might have been at high altitude when it ran out of gaz and plunged into the ocean at supersonic speed. This piece of the airplane is what we needed to initiate the forensic investigation.

      • Geeze- ( although it is possible that the pilot put it into a dive, virtually all the satellite info processed months ago gave rise to the likelyhood of a sort of ditching when the engines both quit. Simulators showed that a phugoid motion- dive, nose up dive nose up response from the autopilot . This part like many ( e.g engines ) attached to the wing is designed to come off before the wings. why not wait for the analysis ??

        • Except for the phugoid dive, what I say and what you say are pretty much the same.

          Normand: “This suggests to me that the airplane might have been at high altitude when it ran out of gaz and plunged into the ocean at supersonic speed.”

          DON: “Virtually all the satellite info processed months ago gave rise to the likelyhood of a sort of ditching when the engines both quit.”

          I am not an aerodynamicist but I don’t think the phugoid motion would have lasted very long before the aircraft entered a steep dive (there is no such thing as a phugoid dive). In my mind nothing else could explain the disintegration of the flaperon’s trailing edge. Anyway, this is just speculation on my part. And I do not intend to wait for the analysis because I enjoy the exercise very much.

          • … lasted very long before the aircraft entered a steep dive (there is no such thing as a phugoid dive)…

            GEEEEZEEE – pay attention !- It was long ago reported by some pilots and by boeing as to what happens when engines stop and plane is on autopilot. Also run on simulator. as the plane slows, the nose goes up. as the nose goes up, the plane approaches stall. The FBW controls then push the nose down to gain airspeed. As the airspeed increases, the FBW pulls nose up – and the motions repeat- thus a pohugoid motion. This is with no human intervention. Or if a pilot is trying to maintain wings level.
            Did that happen ? dont know for sure. But my poInt was that it would take a very deliberate action by then pilot to dive the plane- and if so, then there would **probably ** be wings torn off, etc. – which would float..

            AS I said – believe what you want- lots of theories, etc- but why not wait for at least an examination of the part. IMO – Flutter issues unlikely due to the way the flaperons work.

  11. I never denied that initially there was a phugoid motion; I only said that there is no such thing as a phugoid dive. A phugoid motion is a cyclic phenomenon and the aircraft will only enter a “dive” for an extremely short period of time until it goes up again. But this cyclic phenomenon can not last very long. The aircraft will enter a steep dive after the phugoid motion can no longer produce lift (because the drag is not compensated by thrust) and therefore can no longer support the aircraft in the sky; which will bring it down very fast, likely in a spiral dive. The wing itself, if not the aircraft, would certainly be supersonic by then. And at that king of speed the flutter would be such that the trailing edge would have started to disintegrate before impact due to the very intense fluttering caused by the excessive speed.

    • AW geeze- under the best of conditions, the thrust/power to drag ratios to go supersonic are multiples of that required for takeoff with full load. While it ***might*** be possible for a 777 to reach supersonic in a full power dive, it is NOT possible via gravity assist. ( unless one starts from over 120K feet in a low drag configuration as Felix Baumgartner did) A 777 is a bit larger and has bucu more drag, and is not completely area ruled to reduce transonic drag.

      I recall that there was some indication via satellite that at least one engine quit most likely due to fuel exhaustion.

      While there is a large variety of possibilities as to how plane hit the ocean- supersonic is NOT one of them.

      NUFF !!

      • Perhaps not the aircraft because it is very large and has a lot more drag than a fighter for example; but it will go down fast enough to say that it was at nearly supersonic speed. But there is no doubt in my mind that the wing itself will be supersonic (or at least transonic) long before the aircraft is. Most aircraft normally fly at high Mach number, o.82 and above. At that speed the wing is already transonic. But whether the wing or the aircraft is supersonic, nearly supersonic or transonic is academic. What is important to understand is that the aircraft will quickly go into overspeed once it has entered a steep dive. So for the sake of the discussion let’s stick with this word: overspeed.

        An overspeed condition is very dangerous for an aircraft because it can quickly start to disintegrate in flight. That is why there are so many bells and whistles going off when an aircraft approaches an excessive speed condition. Control surfaces are designed for predetermined positions of the centre of pressure. But when a centre of pressure moves too far back, as it can do once it has entered the transonic zone, the control surface may start to oscillate if the pressure moves too far back as speed increases. For the control surface has now entered a very unstable zone. And the amplitude of the induced frequency (flutter) can quickly exceed the structural capacity of a component like a flaperon trailing edge for example.

          • I read that “End of Flight Scenario” and found it interesting. But it seems to be written with a preoccupation to define a probable crash site area more that the end of flight dynamics per say. Still, it’s good enough to elaborate some potential scenarios. Unless you prefer to wait of course… As for myself I like to speculate because I want to know, or at least have an idea of, what might have happened. Until the recovery of the flaperon it was more difficult to figure things out because of the lack of any hard evidence; everything had to be inferred. But now we have a bone to chew on.* For many experts two elements have already come out of this find:

            1. The aircraft has indeed crashed into the Indian Ocean.
            2. The crash site area can now be located with more precision.
            3. The aircraft likely went into overspeed before it crashed.

            Number 1 does not offer anything new, only a confirmation. Number 2 will facilitate, and perhaps accelerate, the search for the black boxes. Number 3 can be taken into consideration and factored into previous analysis and simulations.

            *Flutter has obviously chewed on this bone and we can clearly see the teethmarks. 🙂

        • “….In my mind nothing else could explain the disintegration of the flaperon’s trailing edge….”

          Uhhhh- you DO know or have observed that the trailing edge ‘ tears ‘ are mostly barnacles ?? And that its location is adjacent to the engine pylons which are designed to tear off instead of tearing the off ?

  12. There is a possibility that a second aircraft part might have been found approximately 25 km away from the location where the flaperon had been found. It supposedly look like a piece that would belong to an aircraft door and would have Chinese inscriptions on it. It sounds credible but we don’t have enough informations so far to make a valid opinion. It’s intriguing though and I eagerly await the results of a detailed analysis. If the first part was obviously a 777 part this one might bring us even closer to MH370 because of what could turn out to be a characteristic Chinese marking inside the cabin of a Malaysian Airline 777.

    • …An object found on an Indian Ocean island is not part of a plane door but a generic ladder that has nothing to do with missing Malaysian Airlines Flight 370, a Malaysian official said Sunday.

      The debris was found on the island of Reunion, where a piece of a Boeing 777 wing flap was found on a beach in the town of Saint Andre on Wednesday.

      “I’m the one leading the investigation in France for the analysis of the (wing flap) piece brought back,” Malaysian Director General of Civil Aviation Azharuddin Abdul Rahman told AFP and other media outlets. “I read all over media it (the new debris) was part of a door. But I checked with the Civil Aviation Authority, and people on the ground in Reunion, and it was just a domestic ladder.”…

  13. In all the flapping, if investigators can’t get an s/n I expect them to account for all spare parts and crashed 777s.

    Sometimes people acquire as souvenirs, sometimes mis-represent the part – theft or loss of part a load of scrap is possible – unlikely but has to be checked.

    An MLG from PW 314 was sent to an overhaul shop, cleaned off, shop understood it was from a crash so checked history including by calling PW.

  14. It is now confirmed that the flaperon not only comes from a Boeing 777 but actually belongs to MH370.

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