The news that part of an aeroplane has washed up on the shore of the Island of Réunion last Wednesday gives little comfort to families and friends of those who were on Malaysia Airlines 370 that disappeared on March 8, 2014.
Confirmation by Malaysia on Friday, that the part is a flaperon and is indeed from a Boeing 777 tells us that it is likely that the plane did indeed end up in the sea. It does not tell us how, where or why. (See wsj: What is a flaperon?)
There have been reports that other parts such as a plane seat have washed ashore over the last couple of months. They may or may not be connected to MH370.
An object suspected of being a plane door turned out to be an ordinary step ladder.
Analysis of satellite data showed that MH370 flew for over six hours after contact was lost along one of two corridors:
The appearance of debris on Réunion is consistent with Indian Ocean tidal patterns. Réunion Island is in the “Indian Ocean gyre“, a major current spiral driven by surface winds. This current moves in an anti-clockwise direction at speeds of 3 km/h, about 500 kilometres (300 miles) per week. Objects can be carried away from Australia and toward Réunion for thousands of kilometres. The plane could still be anywhere in the Indian Ocean.
Detailed analysis of the falperon will commence at France‘s Bureau d’Enquêtes et d’Analyses (BEA) in Toulouse on Wednesday. Boeing is reported to be sending a “technical” team to join the investigation. Investigators will try and identify how the flaperon was separated from the rest of the wing.
Newspaper Le Journal is reporting that Joseph Poupin, a marine biologist from the French Naval Academy in Brest, believes that the crustaceans attached to the flaperon (pictured above) have been there for a year. This is consistent with the timing of the disappearance.
Investigators will no doubt be attempting to determine the route taken by the wreckage to get to Réunion. Spotting debris is always hard because it floats below the surface as it is carried by the currents.
Technicians at the Criminal Research Institute of the National Gendarmerie in Pointoise, France will will attempt to extract DNA from the suitcase to see if it matches any samples collected from the families of MH 370 passengers.
May we know some answers soon. My thoughts continue to be with all those impacted by this “event”.
Information on the search can be found here.
MH 370 – THE report – Key Findings (May 2, 2014)
MH370- 3 weeks 3 questions unanswered (March 28, 2014)
MH 370 Map: Two Possible Routes (March 15, 2014)
Sun rises on a new day in Malaysia (March 8, 2014)
Malaysia Airlines Missing Plane (March 8, 2014)