MH370 And the Reunion Flaperon

There’s quite a bit of hope right now that at least one part of MH370 may have surfaced.   By now most aviation pundits are aware that what is thought to be a Boeing 777 flaperon was found by Reunion citizens cleaning up a beach.   That’s part of the trailing edge of a wing on a Boeing, and some of the commentators who’ve had a close look at this object are now pretty much in agreement that its indeed a Boeing 777 flaperon.

Location of the Flaperons on a Boeing 777,
Location of the Flaperons on a Boeing 777,

Take a look at the picture above.  It’s a part of the plane that is required for normal flight, and given its condition, is thought to have been lying in the water for around a year, bobbing around.  The number of sea animals which have grafted onto the sides show that it’s not been in the salt for much longer than 12 months.  So a number of other planes which could be involved, such as South African Airways 295,  are counted out.  So is a Yemeni plane that crashed some years ago.  It’s looking like this is it.  A part of MH370 could have been located.

Ocean currents flow counter-clockwise from Australia towards the Indian Ocean Islands of Reunion, Seychelles and the Maldives.
Ocean currents flow counter-clockwise from Australia towards the Indian Ocean Islands of Reunion, Seychelles and the Maldives.

A flaperon has a duel purpose on the 777.  It’s a roll control device and is “drooped” during takeoff, low speeds, and landing in order to add lift.  What’s very interesting is that its a light weight composite material part – it shouldn’t survive a major nose-down accident too well.  The Nomex honeycomb design (similar to F1 racing cars) is strong, but designed to break on a severe accident.  And most importantly, the 777 flaperon’s dimensions are EXACTLY the size of the drift material found on the Reunion beach.  It’s 1.6m x 2.4m.

Furthermore, the pictures taken show the hinge location is also precisely that of the 777 flaperon.

The problem now is that if you take ocean currents into account,  the main wreckage could still remain un-located for decades. Or in the worst case scenario, forever.  I believe the pilot put the plane down as softly as he could which would then have mean very little damage, and the fuselage would have sunk largely intact.  It’s really the only reason why small and large parts of this aircraft have never been found.  Bits of the plane would indeed have broken off even in a smooth sea landing, but most of the life jackets and so on remain at the bottom of the sea.  It’s a controlled flight into the ocean scenario and all the evidence thus far points directly to a really good pilot taking control of the aircraft, killing everyone on board by flying high enough and long enough to cause death by asphyxiation (and they wouldn’t know it was happening because everyone just fell asleep first), then turning the aircraft to the south west and ditching somewhere off the distant Australian coast.

Part of plane believed to be flaperon found on a Reunion Beach.  Image courtesy of pprune.
Part of plane believed to be flaperon found on a Reunion Beach. Image courtesy of pprune.

Previous blogs have outlined in great detail about how this was achieved.  Most pilots and analysts accept now that the aircraft was controlled by an experienced aviator and the turns and dive through which the 777 was subjected was not the work of some part-time half trained fundamentalist.  It would have taken lots of experience, particularly on large bodied aircraft, to pull off the swooping descent tracked by radar.

We’re now awaiting the serial number which should be located somewhere on what appears to be the flaperon.  I believe its from MH370.  At least for family members,  one of the questions will be answered.  Are my loved one’s still alive and being held in some strange locale?  The terrible and truthful answer will have to be no.

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